View more on these topics

FSA must point out the poorest performers

Once again the Financial Services Authority has found problems with a section of the industry, and once again these firms are not being named and shamed.

Recently, the regulator warned that savings claims made in some in-surance advertisements were misleading or unclear. It has told firms to put a stop to the practice or face regulatory action.

This follows a review of press ad-verts by 57 firms selling motor insurance. These firms acc-ounted for more than three-quarters of the press advertising spend in this area last year.

The regulator found more than half of all motor insurance adverts containing savings claims were either unclear or misleading. It had similar concerns about a quarter of home insurance ads.

These findings make for dismal reading but clients are being left in the dark about which ads are misleading and which companies are behind them.

The same goes for the FSA’s finding, publicised earlier this month, that two-thirds of the mortgage advice firms it surveyed have inadequate processes. Nobody, apart from the firms and the regulator, knows who these offenders are.

This has prompted Which? to call on the FSA to practice what it preaches and be transparent about offenders.

Which? questions why the FSA is consistently reluctant to say who is failing to meet its standards.

This is in contrast to the Advertising Standards Authority – the body which polices non-financial promotions. It helpfully publishes a list of offenders on its website. It doesn’t just tell firms behind closed doors that they have three months to improve.

By not publishing its findings, the FSA is not helping firms that are doing all they can to be compliant and have their clients’ best interests at heart.

The public doesn’t know if their mortgage advice firm is a good one or not so the whole sector is in danger of being tarnished because of the bad practicesof a few.

And surely if a firm thought its name was going to be dragged through the press it would be more likely to ensure it is doing all it can to meet the regulator’s requirements.

On a different note, something that should be welcomed from the FSA is the setting up of a team to tackle the risks posed by financial crime. The division will examine the risks facing consumers.

With financial crime and identity fraud a reality in our society, anything that helps cut it is good.

I know how it feels to be a victim, having had my bank card cloned a few years ago and used in areas of east London I had never even heard of.

The thought of someone else spending your money is traumatic – especially when they clear out your bank account a few days after pay day and you haven’t even been on a shopping spree.

Not so welcome this month is the number of lenders pulling their fixed rate deals and some putting their SVRs up more than the 0.25% hike in the Bank of England base rate.

But it does make this an ideal time to sit down with your clients to ensure they are getting the best deals possible.


Landlords prefer to buy closer to home

New research for Landlord Mortgages has revealed that just over 77% of buy-to-let investors still choose to invest in their local area. Even in London, which boasts some of the highest house prices in the UK, over half of investors still choose to buy a property within five miles of their own residence.Investors who were […]

Mortgage lending at Portman hits 5bn

Portman has revealed that gross mortgage lending increased 18% on 2005, reaching 5bn. Its annual results for 2006 also show that residential mortgage balances increased by 19% to 16.1bn.Robert Sharpe, chief executive of Portman, says: 2006 has been a year of outstanding success. Total assets increased by 20% to 21.3bn.The Mortgage Works delivered pre-tax profit […]

GEMHL holds fixed rates

GE Money Home Lending has held its fixed rates despite the recent increase in the Bank of England base rate.The rates starting from 4.54% will be held across the igroup and First National ranges.It pledges that rates will be held for a limited period even if the Monetary Policy Commitee decides to increase its base […]

IF offers 24 hour mortgage offers

Intelligent Finance has pledged to issue a formal mortgage offer within 24 hours of receiving a completed mortgage pack as part of its new service standards. Cammy Amaira, director of sales at Intelligent Finance, says: “When your profession is mortgage sales, there is nothing more frustrating than delays in processing. We’re confident that we can […]

Jelf flexible benefits

In Focus: How to choose a flexible benefits provider — seven top tips

Jelf Employee Benefits looks at some of the key considerations employers should think about when reviewing and choosing a flexible benefits provider. Choosing the right benefits for your employees is one thing but delivering a successful employee benefits strategy is about understanding the complete picture and delivering it in a personalised way so that it resonates with each and every individual in your business. 


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up