November 16 – The potential for read across
There has been recent focus on the general insurance market with the FCA demanding changes to the renewal process in order to encourage customers to shop around. From next year increased disclosure will be required from insurers and intermediaries to emphasise this. Price comparison websites in the GI market have also been highlighted as distracting consumers from crucial product features. The FCA has acknowledged consumers’ tendency to focus on headline prices and the Competition and Markets Authority has launched a study into digital comparison tools.
The FCA has also instructed firms in the annuity market to review sales processes to ensure that consumers are aware of the range of products available, the availability of impaired annuities and the need to shop around.
In the UK mortgage market the broker’s role is to challenge consumer pre-conceptions and look across a range of products and providers before making a recommendation. These issues have surfaced in the mortgage competition study, with its terms of reference due very soon. It will be interesting to see what approach is taken as the regulator seems to want customers to be able to vote with their feet, but has so far played down the issue of trapped borrowers and turned a blind eye to “execution only” product transfers.
Regulators need to be consistent, whilst understanding the differences between sectors. Consumer outcomes should be a key factor and the potential for consumer detriment where lenders try to limit consumer choice either via technology or reduced product choice should not be underestimated.
AMI Senior Policy Adviser