Treating Customers Fairly initiative slammed for confusing customers

Senior industry figures have slammed the FSA over its Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) initiative, warning that the regulator is concentrating on the wrong issues.

They also said that, perversely, the initiative could lead to consumers being treated unfairly.

Last week, the FSA published its latest paper on TCF in which it highlighted the areas that firms should be looking at when assessing whether they are treating customers fairly.

It also warned that TCF would be become a core part of the FSA's 'arrow' visit risk assessment process and would be upheld by enforcement action where necessary.

But industry figures were critical of the FSA approach. Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith said: "There is no evidence of brokers or intermediaries treating customers unfairly, but simply complying with all the rules does not of itself evidence TCF.

"The dilemma is that by complying with the rules and trying to treat customers fairly we could end up confusing customers unnecessarily."

And Chris Hanks, Allianz Cornhill Commercial general manager, said the FSA was failing to take a "joined-up" approach to regulation of the general insurance sector.

He said: "It doesn't require a big [TCF] regime. It shouldn't be a big issue and the FSA shouldn't make it a big issue. The FSA should be concentrating on market profitability."

Beachcroft Wansbroughs senior partner Lord Hunt said: "I object to the introduction of a regime which by implication says the industry is not treating customers fairly. I would like to see a more constructive dialogue with the industry to embed best practice."

The FSA defended its approach.

A spokesman said: "The rules are not prescriptive. We have been doing as much as we can to help firms comply. Some of the principles may be obvious, but are examples of good practice."