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Research row as FSA claims tree triumph

The FSA says people find stakeholder decision trees easy to use amid claims it is using research findings to paint an optimistic picture.

Eighty-four per cent of people who have used stakeholder pension decision trees have found them easy to use, claims the FSA. It says 77 per cent found trees helpful in determining whether they are eligible for stakeholder.

The FSA research used a total sample of 301 consumer focus group respondents and 59 per cent (178) said that they read decision trees to some extent.

According to the FSA, 84 per cent of them – 150 out of the total sample – found decision trees easy to use.

The experience of the industry is that most pro-viders say they have had little evidence that consumers have used decision trees.

The findings of the FSA&#39s research into the effectiveness of decision trees were presented by conduct of business standards group manager Norman Digance at a closed seminar last week on the sales regime for the Sandler-style products.

The FSA favours a decision-tree-led approach for the Sandler products and tried to use the research as justification for the extension of their use, according to those who attended the closed seminar.

Digance concluded from the research that while decision trees would not stimulate demand for a product, consumers are willing to use them and there is a case for extending them to other simple products

Royal London head of research and communications Gareth Evans says: “It seemed as if they were paving the way for further decision trees or decision bushes as they kept referring to them. It strikes me as if the FSA was trying to portray the results of the stakeholder survey as being more rosy than they really were.”

The FSA would not comment other than to say it will publish its research in full in the next month.

ABI spokeswoman Emma Grainge says: “We know that decision trees are not that user-friendly and that they rarely result in a sale on their own.”

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