Friday, February 25, 2011

FSA Finally Acts - Maybe

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has finally published its review into rules on with-profits investments, and announced its intention to toughen up its rules.

The FSA has finally admitted that with-profits policyholders "are not always getting the fair treatment they deserve".


The FSA has warned insurers that they "will continue to supervise the sector in an intensive way".

The new proposals, which will now be consulted on, cover:

MVRs: Firms will be restricted in their ability to impose "market value reductions"
(MVRs) - the exit penalties you face when you cash in your policy early or move your money to a different company. Companies will not be able to arbitrarily impose penalties because they want to stop policyholders leaving, and will only be allowed to impose penalties to ensure policyholders receive a fair reflection of the value of their policy.

New business: The company will need to demonstrate that writing new business into the fund does not have an adverse effect on existing policyholders. This will tighten up the rules so firms will not be able to offer 'loss leaders' which erode the amount in the with-profits fund for existing policyholders.

Charges: Firms will not be allowed to use servicing companies to extract extra money in charges from with-profits policyholders by including a profit margin on top of the actual cost.

Excess surplus: Firms will be required to have a plan to distribute any excess surplus cash fairly to policyholders, particularly if a company suffers a big fall in the amount of new business it is doing.

With-profits Committees: Firms must provide a clear distinction between the recommendations of the with-profits committee and what action the firm intends to take in response, and will be required to notify the regulator when it overrules the advice of the with-profits committee.

All very nice, but too little too late for those hapless house owners ripped off by the endowment mortgage scandal of the 80's and 90's.