Magazine article Marketing

Can Advertisers Bank on Change?

Magazine article Marketing

Can Advertisers Bank on Change?

Article excerpt

Chancellor Gordon Brown's plan for one regulatory authority to oversee the disparate financial services sector signals change for marketers operating in the sector.

The introduction of the new 'Super' Securities and Investments Board, announced last week, aims to clear up the current maze of regulations that safeguard consumers' interests.

Instead of the five regulatory bodies that oversee the various sectors of the financial services industry, the Super SIB will have sweeping powers to regulate the whole industry, which spent [pounds]68m last year on advertising.

In light of a string of pensions scandals and high-profile banking disasters such as BCCI and Barings, wary consumers will be looking to the new watchdog to safeguard their interests.

And, while the message of consumer protection is clear, companies can only speculate as to what the new government has in store for them.

Time for clarity

Laurie Austin-Olsen, chief executive of specialist financial agency City Financial Marketing, predicts that as more people look for private pensions and other services the need for clearer marketing of those products will grow apace.

"The products themselves have got to be made simpler. The consumer has got to be able to understand what it is they are buying and not be paralysed with fear every time they open a newspaper and expect to read about another scandal. Once they do that, then they are able to take more responsibility for the products that they do buy," he says.

The chancellor's plan has been broadly welcomed by the industry, says Tony Warren, senior managing director of NatWest UK.

"We'll be able to focus on the needs of one customer who buys different services rather than having regulators for different areas of the market. We will have just one body to deal with, which will give us greater focus," says Warren.

The government has said that it will take stock of industry views, and will give companies the opportunity to shape their futures, but there is another message that is coming through equally loud and clear. If the financial services companies fail to get their house in order they will face tough measures imposed by Westminster.

According to Brown: "Our standard of living depends on them [financial services products], particularly in retirement. …

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