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PIMFA priorities – looking ahead to 2021

In line with the outlook that Covid vaccination breakthroughs allow, PIMFA has reviewed our priorities for this year and the following are the top three.

FSCS reform

After major disappointment at yet another year of increased FSCS levies, there is a recognition that this cannot continue and we are working closely with Government & the regulator to find an effective way forward. Indeed, Tim Fassam, our Director of Government Relations and Policy, gave evidence to the House of Commons’ Work and Pension Select Committee inquiry in September highlighting our concerns about consumer detriment, our belief that the ‘polluter should pay’ & that this is ultimately an issue that can only be solved with holistic change.

Individual firm failures erode trust in all regulated firms and undermine consumer confidence. Equally, the costs associated with these supervisory failures – e.g. FSCS and PII premiums – materially impact on cost structures, damaging competitiveness and innovation. These increased costs also negatively impact consumers by widening the advice gap. Today, fewer than 10% of UK consumers access financial advice, with many who don’t pointing to the cost of advice as a reason why they do not.

In our latest policy paper, A rising tide lifts all boats?: A roadmap towards better consumer outcomes and lower levies, we argue that, without a wholesale review of the fundamental drivers of calls on the FSCS, the total compensation bill will continue to rise for all advisers and wealth managers regardless of any review of the levy’s construction.

As a first step, we propose that the FCA fines imposed on firms for regulatory failures contribute to funding the FSCS rather than being paid to the Exchequer, limiting levy increases to a more manageable level or, potentially, reversing FSCS levy increases altogether.

We are also calling for the FCA and FSCS to increase efforts to recover funds from firms or schemes that have failed and ensure they take action in all cases that could reduce a potential levy payment for firms in the same class.

Affordable PI insurance

Equally high on our list of priorities is the ongoing dysfunction which is present in the PII market. Our recent research suggests that only 17% of PIMFA members feel confident in their ability to secure affordable PII cover in future.

Of even greater concern is the fact that over half reported that their current PII cover contained certain restrictions or was not universal in coverage of their back book. This is extremely concerning to us. The lack of affordable PII cover will ultimately see firms withdraw from the market and may in some cases mean that many default back onto the FSCS. PIMFA will be working directly with the Regulator and insurance sector towards a better solution which encourages a buoyant PII market.

The future of regulatory supervision

And finally, Brexit itself. 2021 began with the end of the transition period, creating the environment in which to reconsider the practical application of regulation, review the architecture of the Handbook and change the rules to reflect the specifics of the UK market. We therefore have an opportunity to ask for the review of MiFID II rules that have caused detrimental and unintended consequences and aim to achieve a future regulatory rulebook that is cost-effective, does not impose disproportionate cost burdens on industry and consumers and, above all, works for UK customers.

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