There are another eight weeks for debate. Andy Cook asks what the outcome is likely to be
The commission paid to intermediaries is rapidly becoming the focus of discussions about forthcoming intermediary regulation. At last week's British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) working party on intermediary regulation, it seems that brokers reached a concensus that disclosing commission would be a bad thing.
Insurers are also coming round to the idea that compulsory commission disclosure to customers would be a bad thing. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has commissioned a secret study into commission and its disclosure. It is in the interests of most insurers to keep their dealings with intermediaries secret. We know everyone has different rates, depending upon their bargaining position. Revealing these rates would upset a lot of the insurers' broker customers.
The public would also be outraged to discover that banks, building societies, travel agents and the like can take commissions of up to 50% for every policy purchased. And indeed the recent announcement of a Competition Commission investigation into the electrical warranty market, suggests that there could be something to hide.
Of course, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) seems keen on disclosure and most people who have actually read the European directive that will drive intermediary regulations say that it is coming. Biba is caught in the middle. It is stuck between representing the very vocal members who are against commission disclosure and promoting the idea of professionalism, which in some eyes means charging a fee like other professionals.
The one bonus is that the European Parliament will not look at the intermediary directive until the Autumn, rather than later this month, and so everyone has another eight weeks to debate the issues.