Spreading confusion in the name of clarity

An open letter to the Life Insurance Association from Ray Curwell I am in receipt of your email about mortgage regulation and CP146, thank you. Up until now I have never written an open letter to either the LIA or anyone else. But I feel that the time has come.

This industry is a bit like the hotel and catering industry I used to work in 10 years ago. All it had to do was to provide customers with what they wanted at a fair price, not to poison them in their restaurants, nor burn them while they lay asleep in their rooms.

What is going on in the financial services industry?

Over the past 10 years I have experienced LAUTRO, the PIA, now the FSA, the MCCB and whatever else anyone could dream up such as the GISC.

I have come to the conclusion that we have now reached the following stage: Polarisation might be good, but then it might be bad; a fact find might be advised, or not; an introducer might be regulated but then they might not be. A sale may be regulated, or not. I might be independent, or not. I might be half tied, half independent, or completely tied up. I might be a broker (as described) or I might keep the commission and not charge a fee or charge a fee and rebate the commission. I might need three different terms on business letters, or not. The client could be literate, intelligent, illiterate or a combination. The regulators might know what they are doing, or not. Just like the Consumers&#39 Association, which might know what it is doing, but then might be ensuring that the consumer can&#39t get any advice at any price.

What happened to common sense?

What is all this going to cost the consumer in monetary, regulatory and paper terms? How on earth are they expected to understand all of this?

Silly me. Personal pension decision fees are so easy to understand that financial advisers need to explain them to clients so they could get it wrong on their own.

Of course, I might be a cynic, or not.

The sooner all these regulators (and obviously they all have FPC 1, 2 and 3, the Bridge exam for mortgages, CeMAP, AFPC all papers, PI liability and full memebership of the GISC) stick their hands up and open their eyes and minds the better it will be for us all. The sooner the LIA stands up and gets counted and goes on the offensive the better, or are we all as compliant as sheep? Are we reinventing the wheel? Or are we inventing a different-shaped wheel in a desperate attempt to make all this clear to the consumer? Confused? I certainly am.

The third of mortgage brokers who have passed CeMAP / MAQ to get ahead might have not bothered like the two-thirds who might now get a time extension, or not.

Rebranding from the PIA to the FSA and upping all our registration fees by an extortionate amount is one thing, but what do we get for it? What did we get apart from another stationary re-print bill? Do we need these people?

Answers please.

Ray Curwen

Willow Financial Services

by email