Norwich Union comments on FSA review of retail distribution discussion paper

Article date: 28 June 2007

  • Broadly supportive of the proposals - but fees and charges on all levels of advice should be subject to the same level of transparency

Norwich Union supports the broad thrust of the FSA recommendations on market change and believes that, providing all stakeholders engage constructively, they provide a positive basis for driving change across the industry.

The paper proposes to improve consumer access through simplified products and advisory services. Norwich Union welcomes this, and sees this as an opportunity to offer simplified products and guidance for consumers who do not use, or have access to, professional financial planners. This will help to grow the overall market and create a more healthy financial services industry.

The discussion paper also proposes a solution to the crucial issue of adviser remuneration by introducing the adoption of Customer Agreed Remuneration for "professional advisers". Norwich Union believes that the interests of the customer, adviser and manufacturer should be aligned, and this approach gives customers a clear understanding of the separate costs of the product, advice and ongoing service - which we support. It also offers the convenience of spreading adviser remuneration over the period of the contract. However, Norwich Union believes that consumers should be entitled to the same level of transparency from "general advisers", which is crucial if we are to significantly improve customer confidence in the industry and ensure fair treatment across the board.

David Barral, distribution director for Norwich Union Life, said: "There is a general consensus from all stakeholders that change is necessary if we are to significantly improve consumer confidence in our industry. To grow our market in a sustainable way, it is essential that the interests of consumers, advisers and providers are aligned. There is now an opportunity for the broader community to engage with the FSA's proposals and providing this is done positively, I believe we can achieve these goals."


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Notes to editors:

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

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