ABI calls on FCA for advice re-evaluation

Huw Evans, director general at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), has called on the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority to re-assess the difference between advice and guidance in order to support a wider range of UK consumers.

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Speaking at the JPMorgan European Insurance Conference, Evans said that loosening the definition of advice would give a greater range of providers access to customers caught in the so-called “advice gap” created by the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).

He said: “For innovation in the market to happen, we need the FCA to re-examine whether the current distinction between full advice and provision of information offers the optimal solution for customers.

“We don’t accept this is a medium-term issue, it is a now issue and it requires leadership from out regulators if it is to be resolved. We are committed to working with them to work towards a solution but it has to be led by regulators, not the market.”

RDR was implemented in December 2012 to address failings in the financial sector by removing commission payments to advisers and providers, ensuring advisers have a minimum level of qualification, and improving the transparency of charges.

However, a report published last November by Garry Heath, former director general of The IFA Association, disputes this fact, claimed an advice gap has grown since the implementation of RDR two years ago, leaving 3.5 million people “divorced from advice”.

Elsewhere in his speech, Evans listed several factors which the ABI believes will improve the insurance industry’s reputation, including:

-Transparency about the payment of claims;

-Closer relationships with regulators in the UK and EU;

-Clearer explanations of the workings of the insurance industry to consumers; and

-Better permission levels for the use of data

“We have to go further if we are to win back trust and demonstrate that this is an industry that is much better at serving its customers than those customers too often believe,” he added.

In April, the ABI revealed that new business sales of UK-distributed offshore bonds fell by 10.7% in 2014 to £3.71bn.


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