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Shaun crawford

W orking for a management and IT consultancy firm, Shaun Crawford could be

expected to proclaim a strong belief in the role of new technology in

shaping the financial services world.

He is charged with expanding the presence of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young

through the financial services industry, and sees the financial services

company business model ripe for a complete overhaul.

As vice-president and head of insurance at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, one

of the world&#39s biggest management and IT consultancy firms, Crawford

believes the time is right for firms such as his to play a major part in

helping product providers take the opportunities of the new economy,

allowing them to concentrate on developing their core business.

After a degree in accountancy from Oxford Polytechnic, Crawford qualified

as an accountant and worked for, among others, Midland Montague Bank and

Price Water-house before getting involved in setting up NatWest Life, where

he held senior management roles in finance, marketing and sales.

After five years with NatWest Life he joined Ernst & Young where he was a

partner until its merger with Cap Gemini in July 2000 when he took up his

present role. Now aged 40 and married with two children, Crawford spends

his leisure time running Marlow Under 10s, his son&#39s football team, and

failing to do as much golf and skiing as he would like.

He was involved in the preparation of the CGE&Y report into polarisation

published last February, which predicted the Treasury wanted to push

through plans to scrap polarisation and that that would lead to the

big-name product providers dominating the market.

Crawford&#39s vision for the financial services industry sees two main

changes – both led by new technology. He sees an increase in third-party

servicing coupled with a new integrated distribution framework based on a

depolarised marketplace and greater use of the internet.

“I feel excited, there is a lot that can be added to the industry at the

moment. With CGE&Y, we can offer end-to-end solutions to providers by

outsourcing back-office management. We want to get into the risk and reward

of running these systems.

“The senior managers of life companies want to be thinking about products,

not whether the PCs are working or what is going on in the back office.

Third-party administrators will do administration so life offices can do

the core business they should do.”

Crawford is convinced we will see a greater move towards multi-ties and

depolarisation, with a reduction in the number of product providers. While

the changes to polarisation have been widely linked to the Treasury&#39s

desire for stakeholder pensions to succeed, he believes stakeholder cannot

succeed without compulsion.

H e says: “This is a highly politically sensitive subject at the moment

and is certainly not in anyone&#39s manifesto. Compulsion has to come –

depolarisation is tied in with that. But if the Government is going to do

it they will have to move early in the next Parliament.

If compulsion is brought in, it will be employers and the self-employed

footing the bill in the first instance. It is another form of tax.”

He has little comfort to offer IFAs hoping to hang on to polarisation

although he does not see it as a problem for them. “In CP80, the Government

made it clear there will be change. There is a lot of detail in that paper

which makes me think that alth-ough it is not a done deal, it is very

likely to happen.

“I think depolarisation can be good for the public. If people move to Cat

standards then they will be able to differentiate between funds in actual

performance.”

He believes industry changes have already started to take effect and that

there is a lot more to come. “We are seeing the start of something big. Cat

standards and the 1 per cent price cap will spread to a greater range of

products, although, hopefully, market forces will bring that before the

Government has to force it. But overall charges will be lower than 1 per

cent in the long run.”

Crawford also believes the industry will continue to change the shape of

commission from front-end loading to level commission.

But change need not spell doom for IFAs. “I passionately agree with the

need for face-to-face advice. All the changes will not reduce the need for

advice but will just simplify the process. The vast maj-ority of processes

will be e-enabled. E-commerce will take all the drudge out of the process,

with almost all paperwork taken out.

“The changes will not mean the death of IFAs. We still need salespeople.

Networks will need to evolve from being trade compliance clubs to being

third-party added-value service providers. Nationals will gain ground but

smaller IFAs will find it harder to survive alone.”

Crawford&#39s vision for the financial services market is one of a healthy,

thriving, efficient business model making the most of the new technologies,

where the UK is setting the pace in Europe.

“I want to stay in the financial services market and see this new business

model working. It is a great opportunity for the industry to shake itself

up and lead the world. If we get this right, the EU can only see it as a

good model.”

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