The Endowment Diary

The Endowment Diary


The Endowment Mis-selling Debacle - one of the UK's worst financial scandals

Friday, January 11, 2008

Norwich Union's Sleight of Hand

Norwich Union's Sleight of Hand

It seems that Norwich Union is planning an interesting use of £150M of its inherited estate (orphan funds), which in theory are meant to be for the benefit of its policy holders.

Norwich plans to use £150M of £5BN surplus assets to pay for claims made against the company.

Currently Norwich Union is in the process of re attributing the funds to with-profits policyholders and shareholders, which is perfectly reasonable. However, Which? has warned that £150M has been designated to pay for past mis-selling.

It should be noted that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) does allow money in with-profits funds to be used in a number of ways, including settling compensations claims. It is considering a change in its regulations.

However, it seems to be rather "sharp practice" to use policy holders' money to pay for mis-selling perpetrated by the company that claims to be acting in the interest of the policy holders.

Which? is of the same opinion, and has quite rightly threatened to take the matter to court.

Norwich Union is negotiating the re attribution of the £5BN surplus, and also wants to use some of the money to finance business expansion; which also seems to me to be taking a liberty with policy holders' funds.

Dominic Lindley, financial policy adviser to Which?, is also claiming that billions of pounds of with-profits money has already been used by insurance companies to pay for the mis-selling of endowments and pensions.

What are the FSA doing about this?

Why do they sit on their hands and allow companies, such as Norwich Union, to get away with this?

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