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Polarisation – politics and pressure points

IFAs should brace themselves. By the time you receive this issue of Money Marketing, some industry sources believe the Government will have announced its decision on polarisation.

To the best of our knowledge, the FSA has passed its recommendation to the Treasury.

It has left the publication to the Government but, by handing responsibility to spin-doctors, it simply confirms many of our fears about the lack of openness raised in our Poles Apart campaign.

The regulator doesn&#39t appear to understand that its own credibility is at stake. It is closer to the ground than Whitehall and should be able to take the lead on polarisation without political interference.

But it is our contention the FSA has come under intense political pressure, most worryingly from civil servants,to toe the line. It may, under this pressure, have decided in favour of multi-ties based on the ridiculous report produced by the now defunct London Economics.

This would be despite warnings about consumer confusion and opposition from the Consumers&#39 Association and the FSA&#39s own consumer panel, the possible damage to IFAs and the fears of a dash for distri bution disrupting stakeholder&#39s launch.

We hope we are wrong and, if so, apologise to the FSA for suggesting it is merely a pawn of politicians. There may indeed be a case for some limited adjustments.

But if it backs multi-ties, it will have broken the most important of its four statutory objectives, to protect consumers.

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