View more on these topics

Mark of distinction?

The Raising Standards initiative is banking on IFAs&#39 support to make the quality mark, awarded to the first five brands last week, a success.

But how exactly will it benefit advisers and how long will it be before IFAs can use the quality mark for its intended purpose of raising confidence and ultimately growing the market for long-term savings products?

Last week, Norwich Union, Scottish Equitable, Scottish Widows, CIS and Unum were awarded the ABI&#39s quality mark from the Pensions Protection Investments Accreditation Board, the independent body set up by the ABI.

This means product literature and design across the entire brands&#39 ranges have passed the Saltr standard and can carry the quality mark, which is designed to stand for quality, clarity and service.

The standards are designed to be tough yet not impossible. Whether the fact that five out of five brands going forward for accreditation passed has affected its starting point credibility is not yet clear.

The other thing the more cynical pundits might also note is that two out of the five brands have been directly involved in the development of Raising Standards.

Lawrence Churchill is not only chairman and managing director of Unum but also chairman of the Industry Standards Group which set the Saving and Long-Term Risk manual – the rulebook which brands are judged by the PPIAB to make the Raising Standards grade. In addition, Tom Ross is not just chief executive of Scottish Widows but also chairman of the ABI.

That said, anyone who speaks to either a PPIAB accreditation consultant or the individuals responsible for getting their life offices through the regime will show that Raising Standards is no easy ride.

The estimated £11m collective costs of the first five brands also demonstrates the investment required.

But will other life offices follow? The PPIAB says it has had applications from a number of brands which hope to receive accreditation in November or early December.

However, a number of life offices, including Skandia and Legal & General, are taking a watching brief on whether to go for the quality mark. They are wary of building on sand in light of the with-profits, Sandler, polarisation, disclosure and other reviews.

While ABI director general Mary Francis says the FSA&#39s with-profits review is heading the same way as Raising Standards, it may take a lot to convince new brands that they will not have to return to the drawing board once the outcomes of the round of reviews are known.

IFAs appear to broadly welcome the announcements of the first accreditations but do not expect it to win the war against consumer mistrust.

Hargreaves Lansdown retirement planning manager Danny Cox says: “With five brands already, I imagine other big brands will have to follow. Anything that can be done to increase consumer confidence has to be a good thing.

“Whether this will help with IFAs and their clients is less clear. Although it might act to differentiate between providers, the chances are we recommend products with no capital units and clear product literature anyway, so Raising Standards brands are likely to be recommended by default.”

Klonowski & Co principal Francis Klonowski says: “My immediate reaction to Raising Standards is that you can make product literature as clear or fancy as you want, you can make the products as cheap as you want, but they do not make people buy.

“Any amount of product makeover will not make a jot of difference unless they have confidence in you. This is exactly what clients tell me.

“But anything that shows consumers the industry is being proactive in trying to get it right should be welcomed although I still maintain sales come down to confidence in the adviser, not the product.”

Recommended

Schroder secures growth

Schroder Unit Trusts has designed a capital protected fund that is linked to the Eurostoxx 50 index over a term of five years and two months.Schroder secure growth formula is a Dublin-based closed-ended fund that invests in bonds and derivatives to provide capital protection. Investors get their original capital back at the end of the […]

FSA will regulate LTC and advice is poised to follow

The Treasury has confirmed that sales and marketing of long-term care insurance will become fully regulated by the FSA, with providers predicting advice will also fall under the regulator&#39s remit.The Treasury appears to have ruled out Catmarking of LTC, with providers claiming the failure to mention it in the announcement this week indicates the plans […]

Lines crossed

I know the phone systems of some companies is a subject that has been dissected by us all many many times but:1: The average time spent holding to be put through is a minimum five minutes.2: I&#39m constantly getting cut off “by accident” when things get complicated.3: I can never speak to the same person […]

Friends CD shows net admin deal

Friends Provident is giving IFAs a CD which demonstrates its online admin system for its stakeholder pensions.The CD uses voiceovers and graphics from Friends&#39 online systems to show IFAs and employers how various aspects of scheme admin can be undertaken on a cost-effective and efficient basis.The admin services inc-lude inputting members&#39 det-ails, making contributions, adding […]

Looking back at 2015

By Fiona Tait, Pensions Specialist 2015 was quite a year for pensions. Change, more change, and proposed changes to the changes. The Spring Budget – pre-election plans With everything that has happened since, it is hard to remember what happened in March. Following on from the bombshell of the 2014 Budget, the Chancellor confined himself […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment

    Close

    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm

    Email: customerservices@moneymarketing.com