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Independent view

Recent events have brought into focus the world&#39s media and the levels to which some people will stoop to use it to their advantage. But this is, of course, to be expected from the Taliban propaganda machine and our Government&#39s beloved spin doctors.

Were I responsible for military strategy, the frustrations of seeing almost every last detail broadcast to the world at large would be considerable.

Perhaps it is good propaganda to demonstrate combined strength but there must be many things that would be better left unsaid, leaving surprise as a vital weapon in the offensive against terrorism.

There are those, of course, who would rather not say things and deliberately manipulate the media to create a good impression.

Quite why a certain spin doctor has not been dismissed beggars belief – not only with the infamous e-mail but also as it appears in relation to Railtrack, where the public are now more than a little suspicious that skulduggery may have been taking place and where we have a right to know the true facts.

This brings me round to the need for credible information, allowing opinion to be formed on the basis of facts that are accessible and on which reliable decisions can be made.

There are very real concerns that those in power (whoever they may be) are making decisions that affect our businesses and the rights of the consumer without proper regard to the true facts.

I am pleased to hear that Mr Sandler is keen to hear from IFAs. When reading the document I found that much of it described a situation that applied almost 20 years ago. Life in the financial services sector has moved on more than a tad since that time.

Within the Treasury there is obviously a move to seek a shake-up of the financial services sector but this does not sit easily alongside a situation where knowledge appears to be lacking. It begs the question that if you do not understand what is actually going on in the real world of financial planning, what sort of legislation and regulation will we end up with?

Stakeholder is a classic example of this thought process. It does not take a rocket scientist to recognise that those who are unable to save are not going to be in a position to put monies aside just because another form of contract becomes available to them.

Equally, employers who are being saddled with ever-more regulation are not going to fall over themselves to make payments for employees where they have chosen not to do so in the past.

The biggest success thus far is that it has had the effect of reducing charges dramatically. The cost may be future company collapses that will make the Equitable situation seem a minor irrelevance.

The key to building up financial independence is financial education. This depends upon the availability of reliable information encouraging individuals to take control of their financial affairs and undertaking sufficient research for them to make informed decisions.

It is possible to obtain much more factual information these days but the latest FSA tables provide a very isolated view for investors that will undoubtedly lead to misbuying over time.

To focus on charges alone is not the way to select products and recent research on tracker funds showing the worst fund at almost 26 per cent below the benchmark just highlights this position that full detailed research is an absolute essential.

Knowledge and information are very powerful tools. It is time that speculation and spin are put to one side in order that balanced decisions are made based on accurate facts.

Nicholas Conyers is a director at Pearson Jones


Jersey calls for terrorist financing controls

Jersey has brought in anti-terrorist legislation almost identical to that introduced in the City in recent weeks and is moving to adopt the UN Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing as soon as its domestic law has been amended.Jersey Finance chief executive Phil Austin says: “We are calling on all jurisdictions both onshore and […]

Parliamentary ombudsman to investigate FSA over Equitable

The parliamentary ombudsman is to investigate the role of the FSA in managing the Equitable Life debacle, in a move that could see policyholders receiving state compensation.Parliamentary ombudsman Michael Buckley has written to MPs telling them he will conduct an investigation into the actions of the FSA between January 1, 1999 and December 8, 2000. […]

Axa sounds out IFAs on linking up for multi-tie

Axa has been canvassing IFAs&#39 support for multi-ties, warning those left behind may have to accept fees and encouraging them to discuss their future with Axa.The insurance giant has been writing to IFAs, saying major change to the market is on the way.IFAs are asked to complete a questionnaire which asks if they would consider […]

Jelf IFM buys healthcare intermediary CHMG

IFA Jelf IFM Group has purchased Wiltshire based specialist healthcare intermediary Corporate Health Management Group.CHMG, with offices in Marlborough, joins Jelf IFM which already has a network of offices in Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham and Manchester. Jelf IFM says the deal places it in the top 15 healthcare intermediaries in the UK.Apart from healthcare, Jelf IFM […]

Retirement - thumbnail

(Another) downhill stroll — retirement planning

A report published this morning by the CIPD (CIPD Employee Outlook March 2015) provides yet more interesting data to the changing landscape of retirement planning. It should be remembered that we are in a period of genuine flux here given that the default retirement age was scrapped three years ago, and new pension freedoms come online in April. Both of these alterations will have a huge impact on how employees plan for their retirement.


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