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"we will need to make sure that as the financial services industry creates new products and options to meet these new freedoms, we put the consumer front and centre of our approach"
When a mass of topics that haven’t come up for ages suddenly hit the headlines then you know that the political party conference season must have started. We’ve refrained from commenting so far but two speeches over the weekend from the Liberal Democrat conference caught our eye.
The first were comments made at a fringe meeting by Karina McTeague, FCA director of retail banking, in which she defended the FCA’s decision to devolve the approval of in-house financial advisers to the banks themselves. Commenting on the decision to New Model Adviser®, she said that “The banks are really working hard to change their culture” adding “the best control is when firms know that regaining consumer trust is the best way for them to have a sustainable business.”
On the other side of the argument, Pensions’ Minister, Steve Webb, vowed to watch the pensions industry “like a hawk.” Commenting on the launch of new pension products ahead of budget changes which are due to take effect in 2015 Mr Webb said that ‘it is difficult to regulate products that don’t yet exist” but that “we must watch the industry like a hawk and step in if necessary to make sure we do not have a repeat of some of the past horror stories for which the pensions industry has unfortunately become all too well known.”
Giving freedom, watching like a hawk; on the face of it these are two very different approaches but in the end they are two facets of the same aim which is to bring the culture of the financial services industry back into line with consumer and regulator expectations. As Steve Webb went on to say “we will need to make sure that as the financial services industry creates new products and options to meet these new freedoms, we put the consumer front and centre of our approach.”