Finance firm helpWhich? and finance firms help consumers

01 September 2005

Which? is proposing a pioneering partnership with the financial services industry to restore battered consumer confidence.

Mis-selling and other scandals have put off potential customers. This, compounded by poor market performance, has led to disastrous consequences, particularly for pensions.

Which? has now published a blueprint for new industry standards. If adopted, these could help consumers make informed choices, leading to better competition and restoration of confidence in the industry.

Chairman Peter Vicary-Smith says:'Following a succession of mis-selling scandals and low market performance, consumer confidence and trust in the financial services industry have been severely damaged. Regaining consumers' trust has to be the number one priority for industry.

'At this critical time the industry should grasp with both hands the opportunity to build on other current initiatives to encourage people back to the financial products market. This is not only in the consumer interest, but the national economic interest too.'

At the heart of the discussion paper are ideas for new standards by which companies will be judged. These include getting firms to publish records of how they handle complaints.

The paper also examines new ways to represent consumer interests, for example establishing more consumer councils. It calls for a move away from current commission-based selling tactics, where sales staff are rewarded by the volume of sales at the expense of customer care.

The consultation will be open until the end of November.