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Third of market now covered by quality mark

More than a third of the retail financial services market by value is now represented by the Raising Standards quality mark, according to the first annual report from the Pensions Protection Investment Accreditation Board.

It says the nine providers which have the accreditation make up 34 per cent of the market. Providers representing another 13 per cent are in the preliminary stages of acquiring it while providers making up 21 per cent are in discussions with the board.

The nine providers which met the scheme requirements during the first 12 months are CIS, Eagle Star Life, Friends Provident, Norwich Union, Prudential, Scottish Equitable, Scottish Widows, Unum and Zurich Life.

In the annual report, PPIAB chief executive John Cox sets a target of having 50 per cent of the market gaining accreditation by the end of 2002.

Other priorities include encouraging the remaining brands to apply for accreditation, developing further services for members to enhance the value of accreditation, promoting awareness of the scheme among the industry and consumers and demonstrating to the FSA the effectiveness of the concept.

The PPIAB concludes there is no necessity for major amendments to the standard but concedes there is room for improvement.

It has urged the Industry Standards Group, which established the framework for the scheme, to review the benchmarks for the first-year ratio, which aims to limit the money lost by consumers if they cancel their policy in the first year.

PPIAB chairman Sir Michael Bett says: “This is an impressive start for a voluntary initiative, involving a major investment of money, expertise and other resources. There are already significant indications that the scheme is addressing consumer needs.”

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