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Powerful forces moving to kill off polarisation

There is very definitely an agenda to destroy or severely damage polarisation.

The process has been apparent and growing over the last 15 months. In August 1999, the British Bankers&#39 Association was on record as opposing continued polarisation and their spokesman actually referred to the term Bastardised Independent Financial Advice in the pink weeklies.

The attack was publicly supported by Allied Dunbar. It is now being stated in a well aired discussion in the financial advisory trade press that the option, within the polarisation debate, of continued status quo is just not going to happen. Why? Because powerful forces it seems are at work to end it.

What powerful forces? There seems to be a marked reluctance to identify those in opposition to the status quo or indeed for those who want to end polarisation to publicly state their reasons for demanding changes to the present status.

It is clear that the Government is being totally evasive over the issue.

The failure of Treasury economic secretary Melanie Johnson to answer the 10 vital questions posed by Money Marketing is a significant straw in the wind.

I suspect that the recent report of the London Economics Group on the subject has not provided the arguments for depolarisation that the depolarisers wanted.

It is clear that, in addition to the British Institute of Bankers, the few remaining direct salesforce operations such as Allied Dunbar, the only other organisation that seems to want to change the system is likely to be the Treasury.

We know why the bankers want to see the end of polarisation. It is because their own direct salesforces have not delivered the goods.

Why should anyone wantto change a system that works, delivers, is proven to be efficient, has the support of the consumer groups and the financial press and has been commercially successful in a free market where the public are free to make an informed choice?

Why is it that there is such covert opposition to polarisation from any source when all the statistics prove that pension misselling, inappropriate selling of bad endowment policies and sales of unsuitable investments have featured far more heavily from direct salesforces and bancassurers?

It seems clear that IFAs have upset some very powerful vested interests in very high places. Why is this? I suggest that the FSA would like to see us abolished as it would make their life so very easy, from the regulatory point of view.

Abolish IFAs and you abolish the very independent source of advice which can advise on tax efficiency, expose Government inefficiency and aggressive tax-raising measures, hidden agendas and covert tax-raising measures by stealth.

We do not fit into the new pile it high, sell it cheap vanilla ice cream only stakeholder pension regime which is likely to be a disaster as IFAs are able to warn people about the pitfalls created by the conceptual deficiencies within the entire plan.

How much easier for the Government if there were just a handful of providers selling an identical product where the Government exercised total control not only on the design and therefore potential profits or losses on supplying pensions but also the entire distribution network.

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