Financial News

  • 31 March 2014, 7:39

FCA Probes Millions Of 'Bad Deal' Investments

The City watchdog is to scrutinise millions of finance products sold to consumers over three decades, because of fears they are shackled by unfair terms and conditions.

It is estimated around 30 million policies, including pensions, endowments, life insurance and investment bonds were sold by companies between the 1970s and the end of the century.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is expected to announce the decision on Monday, as part of its annual business plan.

The investigation, due to begin in the summer, comes amid suspicion new customers receive better deals while long-term customers receive poor service and higher fees.

Many of the suspect policies penalise consumers if they try to swap to better deals offered by rivals.

The share price for many of the big insurance companies fell on Friday, with early trades in Resolution down 7%, Aviva down 6% and Legal & General trading more than 4% lower.

According to the FCA, some people risk losing half of their investments if they change provider from the so-called zombie funds.

The funds are closed to new customers and many of those who invested are suspected of subsidising other products because of the high charges.

FCA director of supervision Clive Adamson told The Daily Telegraph: "We want to find out how closed-book products are being serviced by insurance companies.

"As we are concerned insurers are allocating an unfair amount of overheads to historic funds.

"As firms cut prices and create new products, there is a danger that customers with older contracts are forgotten.

He added: "We want to ensure they get a fair deal. As part of the review we will collect information to establish whether we need to intervene on exit charges."

The FCA was born out of the now-defunct Financial Services Authority, which was abolished by the current Government in the wake of the financial crisis.

Next week it also takes responsibility for the consumer credit market.

Earlier this week, it imposed a 12.4m fine on Santander UK for failings in its investment advice to customers.

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