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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 June 2007, 04:09 GMT 05:09 UK
Commission 'caused mis-selling'
By Paul Lewis
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Various notes
Mr Howard believes commission bias leads to mis-selling scandals
Commission on the sale of pensions and other products should end, says a top financial services figure.

John Howard, chairman of the consumer panel which advises the Financial Services Authority, blames commission for past mis-selling scandals.

Instead he wants customers to agree how much the adviser should be paid and add that onto the cost of the product.

The trade body for financial advisers insists its members are transparent about what they earn.

Mr Howard told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme: "There is always the temptation for financial advisers to select the product that pays them the most commission but which may not be the best for you.

"This has created the perception that you can't necessarily trust financial advisers."

'Neat' solution

Mr Howard had earlier warned: "In our view, the cause of many of the mis-selling scandals of the past can be traced back to commission bias."

And he told the programme his "really neat solution".

"When you go to a financial adviser you agree how much you are going to pay for the advice you are going to get," he suggested.

"The adviser will then look at the marketplace and select a product.

In the industry there is a tide building to get rid of commission
John Howard, FSCP

"They will then go to the building society or insurance company and say 'I've selected this product, I've agreed what I'm going to charge for advice, put that on top of the product.' So the customer doesn't pay the fee upfront, he pays it over the life of the product."

But Chris Cummings, director general of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, denied commission influenced sales and said advisers were upfront about what they earned.

"The first conversation with an adviser is along the lines John's just discussed - how do they want to pay for their service," he told the programme.

"IFAs have to disclose how much commission they are earning. A lot of advisers work on a fee basis. So what is perception and what is reality?"

Mr Howard thought that failed to perceive the current mood.

"In the industry there is a tide building to get rid of commission and to change the way the financial products are sold," he said.

"This is a real opportunity to grasp this and make our IFA sector the consumer champions that all consumers really want."

He added: "This could be a vital opportunity to change the face of retail financial services and avoid future mis-selling scandals."

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 16 June, at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 17 June at 2102 BST.

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