Autif is the latest trade body preparing to let Gov-ernment plans for phase one of its review of polarisation go through largely unopposed, leaving IFA representatives looking increasingly isolated.
It has accepted Government plans to depolarise stakeholder and fund supermarkets although it is trying to hold the line on Cat-standard Isas, arguing that a change could harm consumers.
An Autif members' circular released last month and obtained by Money Marketing reveals the trade body's position. The move follows the revelation last week of ABI plans to concede on much of phase one.
In the circular, Autif states that since stakeholder is particularly suitable for lower social gro- ups, detriment to IFAs would be minimal as this is not a “natural market” for advisers.
The FSA's proposals on direct-offer advertisements receive “strong support”, with Autif believing fund supermarkets greatly increase competition and benefit investors.
But Autif departs from the regulator's position on Catmarked Isas on the grounds it is not appropriate to depolarise merely because of the pricing and investment policy of a particular product – the only difference it sees between Cat-standard and non-Cat-standard Isas.
The proposed position is now being put to members for final comments before a formal submission to the regulator in the middle of this month.
Autif senior policy adviser Colin Hawtin says: “With Catmarked Isas, if you can only offer an adopted product, then it is possible the consumer will get a worse deal than they would if they went to the company direct where they would have more choice.”
Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “Supporting a relaxation of polarisation for stakeholder but not Catmarked Isas seems entirely contradictory.
“Stakeholder is a complex product which I believe should not be sold without proper advice.”