View more on these topics

Nuki&#39s Eye

If the new “Freedom of Information” Bill now passing through Parliament

has not yet caught your attention, I advise you to have a close look at it

in the next few weeks and then to write to your local MP to complain.

The bill – a disgrace from start to finish – is an insult to every British

citizen and it will hit IFAs and all others whose job it is to protect

their clients&#39 financial interests particularly hard.

For those of you who are not aware, Tony Blair and his pals made a clear

manifesto commitment at the last general election to introduce a US-style

freedom of information law in Britain.

The bill, we were explicitly promised, would give all of us a legal right

of access to all Government papers except those whose release could be

shown to pose a “substantial threat” to the public interest.

For the first time in Britain, Labour claimed, we would have a law which

recognised that information collected and collated by the Government

belonged to us, the electorate.

If ever anyone wanted to see a Government paper, all you would need to do

is ask.

If you think that none of this has much to do with IFAs, you are wrong.

Freedom of information is not all about spies, satel-lites and other lofty

matters of state. It is also about a million and one very ordinary things

that affect all our everyday lives.

For example, any IFA worth his salt understands the importance of

determining a life office&#39s financial strength before making a


Which companies are suffering the worst lapse rates? Which proprietary

offices are raiding policyholders funds&#39 to pay off regulatory fines?

These are just a couple of questions you might want to ask on your

clients&#39 beh- alf and expect answers to.

However, you have no right to those answers now and you will not get them

even if the new “Freedom of Information” Bill becomes law in its current


The sad fact is that New Labour has reneged on its manifesto commitment

and the bill now before Parliament is so weak that it is probably worse

than having no Freedom of Information Bill at all.

The test of “substantial harm” has been dropped, for example. Now any

information that could as much as “prejudice” any public or commercial

interest could be withheld.

Worse still, all inspection and investigation authorities with the power

to prosecute are to be made exempt from the new law.

This means that the Financial Services Authority will not be obliged to

hand over any information at all to IFAs or anyone else.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that these rules are academic and that

the authorities concerned would release important information off their own


The questions mentioned above about lapse rate and raids on policyholders&#39

funds have already been asked of the Treasury and the FSA by the Consumers&#39

Association. In both cases, the answers have been refused on the grounds

that they might prejudice the commercial interests of the companies


The so-called “Freedom of Information” Bill would give you no additional

right to such information and will probably make matters worse.

At least now when organisations such as the FSA hold back important

information they do so at some risk to their reputation.

Once the new bill is in place, they will be able to point to the

legislation and say: “Sorry, guv, it is not our fault. It&#39s the law.”

If you would like to be sure that the companies you are recommending have

not just dipped into their policyholders&#39 funds to extract several billions

of pounds in orphan assets that you believed your clients would benefit

from, put pen to paper and write to your local MP about the new Freedom of

Information Bill today.

For more information about the bill and its flaws look at the website www.


Women in the industry lag behind men on pay

Women working in financial services are trailing behind men in the pay stakes.A survey conducted by City-based headhunters and acquisition brokersSeers, entitled Women in Insurance, reveals that women are paid 13 per centless than men on average.However, women are climbing further up the corporate ladder than beforeand, once in senior positions, they tend to hold […]

Fund stars shift orbits

Jupiter and M&G have been dealt a blow with the loss of star fund managers.Jupiter fund manager William Littlewood has ended speculation on whetherhe will return from his three-month sabbatical by retiring “indefinitely”because of chronic fatigue.M&G high-profile fund manager Nick Train is leaving just as the companycomp letes a merger with Prudential Portfolio Managers which […]

Learning on earnings

Throughout the 1990s, the UK economy moved into a low-growth andlow-inflation environment. This was good news for UK markets but investorshad to live with a dramatic fall in equity and bond yields.It would have been easy to conclude that an equity income fund might beregarded as a contradiction in terms but this sector remains one […]

Standard is pondering TV ads in mutual fight

Standard Life is considering taking its fight to stay mutual into homesnationwide with a TV campaign.It is one of the strategies the life office is considering. It would bethe first TV campaign run by a company centred on the benefits ofmutuality. A Standard Life spokesman says: “If it is appropriate, we willuse it.”It is preparing […]

Pension savings-2015

Pension tax relief: parked (for the moment)

The national news agenda has been dominated by pension issues this month. For those that missed it (and there cannot have been many given that this was the lead story in spoken and written media), the Chancellor announced a decision to make no decision on pension tax relief in his 16 March 2016 Budget speech. To […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    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