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Set out the goal to put vision into clear focus

Traditionally, the industry has been able to relax during election campaigns as politicians scrap for votes.

Financial services rarely features in party political broadcasts. It is not a vote winner or a vote loser. With the civil service in purdah, nothing else will be Catmarked for a while.

Nothing will be disclosed that is not already being disclosed and no more accusations will be levelled at commissionhungry IFAs, for a few weeks at least.

Yet financial issues will feature. We have been treated to Labour&#39s baby bond and, with neat generational symmetry, the Conservatives&#39 granny bond.

Both are good ideas in themselves and could be good ideas for the industry in the right context. But context is the problem. There is no vision but a collection of piecemeal reforms, some based on decades-old prejudices, some a firefighting reaction to scandals real and perceived, some vote-chasing, some another stage in dismantling the welfare state.

Ideally, the Government and FSA would set the structure and the industry would provide the vision, with adequate consideration for the need to make a profit as well as serve consumers.

But with the Government intent on controlling almost everything sold and everyone who sells, this may not be the solution. The latest example is the half-thought-out suggestion to Catmark advice.

This current process with umpteen reviews and consultations is a sorry mess. The next Government, whatever its hue, must decide on its destination before it embarks on any more reforms.

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