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Outside View Robert Reid

Monday mornings are never the best time to attend a provider event but this case was an exception. I, along with many others, attended an excellent session with Skandia, which looked at the future of our sector.

It was extremely well arranged and left me with a more positive view going forward.

I was delighted to see that Jim Roberts was prepared to take the FSA to task over the past performance issue in the comparative tables which had been put on the “too difficult” pile far too quickly, given the public&#39s wish to see some sort of investment measurement.

To see the FSA then push the General Insurance Standards Council issue (regarding the sale of waiver policies) on to the “too difficult” pile was just a step too far as this means that in one sale a client would need to complain to two separate bodies, or three if it inclu-ded a mortgage.

I say the client just to emphasise that this is not IFAs moaning again but a criticism of the coverage of regulation becoming blurred to the average consumer.

Perhaps in an effort to offer some redress for this inactivity, the FSA then raised, quite rightly, the issue of PI insurance and its relevance in its current form.

Perhaps we should move to a central fund, Garry Heath&#39s suggestion as I recall, and then top up this base level of cover as required or desired.

This would enable us to benefit from an economy of scale and a consistent approach to claims where a franchise would be more equitable than the present excess approach, where there is not enough pressure on the PI insurers to defend the smaller claims.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with franchises, let me quickly explain that this is where a franchise of £5,000 and a claim of up to £5,000 would be paid by the insured whereas a claim of £8,000 would be met in full.

This contrasts with an excess where only £3,000 would be met. Both ways have their pros and cons but at the very least we need a full and frank discussion to arrive at an improvement on the current situation.

Nonetheless, we need a regulator who does not simply dilute its actions when things are difficult.

The performance tables will not add anything that is not already available on a host of publicly accessible websites.

I am genuinely concerned that the FSA&#39s consumer side is in danger of creating an expectation of regulation that the rest of the body is unable to deliver. We must not lose the public&#39s confidence in regulation if our sector is to prosper.

This means that we all need to respond to the consultative papers which the regulator issues and to take part in the process.

Obviously, Aifa and others must represent the consensus view but that may not be where you or I want to see this sector end up and we must make ourselves heard but in a clear and unambiguous fashion.

In closing this week, can I just point out that I write in an effort to provoke thought.

We need to talk more about the key issues if we are to fashion an adequate and eloquent response to matters such as depolarisation.

The forum that Skandia provided us with this week could be the very thing we have needed for far too long.

On a smaller scale, we need to come together on a local basis to discuss these issues. To say we have no spare time to do so is to accept whatever is sent down to us and that is no way to build a profession.


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