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[Leader] Fine time to stop and bring in some common sense

It beggars belief that in the same month as the FSA proposes handing a massive advantage to the high-street banks in pensions, it should exact a thumping£0.75m in fines from one of the big four.

The PIA has fined NatWest £500,000 for failures by its pension salesforce in 1997 which alarmingly included producing inadequate reason-why letters. NatWest is also having to pay a further £250,000 to Imro for failings in its unit trust business.

It is not Money Marketing&#39s habit to crow over fines levied against any company or firm, regardless of size.

But before embarking on the sham con sultation for depolarising stakeholder pro ducts and Cat-standard Isas in a frantic bid to boost sales, the regulator and the Trea sury should at least pause for thought.

This “consultation”, we presume, will finish before stakeholder&#39s April launch but this first stage at least seem to be a fait accompli. We hope common sense will prevail but fear it will not.

As for our Poles Apart campaign, we have this week got industry experts to answer our questions. We were never optimistic that the FSA or Treasury would answer the questions. It would have required them to face up to uncomfortable truths and the truth has been a bit of a stranger in this whole process.

But the campaign will continue in an updated form. Money Marketing will continue to call for openness and to expose the hidden agendas behind the changes.

At the very least, we will put the industry&#39s warnings to Government and FSA as they blindly embark on the creation of their own pension scandal.

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