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The FSA must not undermine the role of IFAs

The FSA must not become an IFA of last resort. The A in its name stands for authority not for adviser.

In the week the regulator adds pensions to its controversial league tables, it has admitted that one item on its wishlist is to set up a fact-find on the website to look at consumers&#39 circumstances and suggest possible investments.

The FSA, with its league tables which cheerlead for trackers and Catmarked Isas, is already providing advice by implication, likewise with pension decision trees.

It may now aspire to advise the public explicitly.

The news comes as Money Marketing reveals the Government is at least considering decision trees for annuities.

The motive is to help the less well off -a laudable aim. But it does not grapple with the real issue that people are not retiring with large enough pension pots and that annuities are increasingly expensive due to changed economic conditions.

Getting rid of the middleman, when the middleman&#39s advice is essential is the falsest of false economies.

The fear must be that annuity trees will be passed to the regulator for implemen-tation. Catmarks and kitemarks, league tables and decision trees have their uses but without advice they can be hazardous.

The regulator has already strayed into providing half-baked advice on league tables by excluding past performance and creating filters for cheaper funds. But it may plan to create full advice software.

It could completely under-mine its authority to regulate IFAs by simultan-eously operating systems to replace them.

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Our client is a leading video game and publishing company best known for its console role-playing game franchises. The client provides a number of benefits, at varying levels and cost that attract a P11d liability. With the absence of a management log to track data for benefit movements, enormous administrative and therefore cost implications were occurring each year just to comply with P11d reporting requirements.

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