SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS

In general terms a Special Interest Group (SIG) is

 

"a community within a larger organisation with a shared interest in advancing a specific area of knowledge, learning or technology where members cooperate to affect or to produce solutions within their particular field".

 

As such, the term Special Interest Group is the perfect description for the many teams of volunteers that are the engine room of the collaborative, campaigning community that is the Transparency Task Force.

 

Please note:

 

If you already know that you want to join one or more of our Special Interest Groups click on the button below; otherwise read on to help you decide if you want to be included. 

 

Thank you!

You can scroll to the bottom of this page to:

  • Download a spreadsheet showing who is involved with each of our Special Interest Groups
  • View a table that shows when each Special Interest Group has its next quarterly conference call.

 

How the Special Interest Groups started

 

The first Transparency Task Force meeting was held on 6th May 2015 at Senate House, London University. The meeting was about the need for the financial services industry to rebuild trust in the sector; and about the correlation between transparency, truthfulness and trustworthiness. 

 

The message delivered was that those of us who truly care about the importance of the Financial Services sector and the people it serves can, and should, work together to help put things right.

 

We referred to the famous Margaret Mead quote: 

Our call for right-minded people to "stand up, not stand by” landed well – people volunteered to get involved.

 

Since then, through word of mouth, through our Transparency Symposia, through our coverage in the press including the Financial Times and Radio 4, through publication of the Transparency Times and through many speaking slots in the UK and overseas, more and more people have heard about our aims and objectives and stepped forward to get involved.

 

The response to what the Transparency Task Force is all about has been profoundly positive because professionally-minded people align very naturally with what we call our ‘North Star’ question: 

 

“What’s best for the consumer?”

 

Volunteers have been organized and mobilized into our Special Interest Groups; with each one being made up people with subject-matter expertise and interest in a particular field.

 

We started off with a handful of teams but we now have 18.

 

In total our Special Interest Groups have over 500 people involved; mostly in the UK but across 16 countries altogether.

 

The Special Interest Group members are a 'coalition of the willing', working together to be 'part of the solution'. Each team is focused on at least one campaign objective.

 

Frequently asked questions:

 

Q: Is there a cost to join any of the Special Interest Groups?

A: No. 

 

Q: Would I be obliged to do anything in particular?

A: No - you can be involved as much or as little as you want

 

Q: What is the guiding principle that the TTF and its Special Interest Groups abide by?

A: We are always seeking to build consensus around our North Star Question which is "What is best for the consumer?"

 

Q: Would I be obliged to think about issues in a particular way?

A: No - we welcome and want a wide range of views; you’ll be free to “say it as you see it”

 

Q: How do the Special Interest Groups operate in practical terms?

A: We have quarterly conference calls that last half an hour, so it's not too onerous at all. Furthermore, there is no need for you to make every call, just those that happen to be convenient for you?

 

Q: Where can I find the details of the next quarterly conference calls?

A: See the table at the bottom of this web page where you will find full details about timings of each of the calls and also the dial-in details you need.

 

Q: What happens between the quarterly calls?

A: Each of the Special Interest Groups has one or more campaign objective. If you want to be involved in helping to drive that particular campaign forward you might want to pick up some of the actions and responsibilities necessary; it's a team effort but it is entirely up to you whether you pick up any actions

 

Q: Can I be in a Special Interest Group but basically just "sit on the side-lines"?

A: Yes you can. We would hope that as time went by you would want to participate in our activity but there is no compulsion for you to do so

 

Q: How do the Special Interest Groups get formed and how do they decide on their campaign objective(s)?

A:  Generally speaking we follow these steps; always building consensus through frank and open discussion as we go and always seeking to work together in a civilised, cooperative and collaborative manner:

  • Step 1: We identify a part of the financial services sector that we believe could function in a better way for the consumer
  • Step 2: We reach out to people with subject-matter expertise in that particular part of the market who might be keen to work collaboratively with others to help improve the way that part of the market functions

  • Step 3: We organise and mobilise the volunteers into a solution-orientated Special Interest Group

  • Step 4: We facilitate the development of the Special Interest Group's objectives and a pragmatic campaign strategy to achieve those objectives

  • Step 5: We liaise with relevent members of the press, regulators, parliamentarians, government officials, leading academics, thought leaders and so on to create supportive engagement, analysis and insight

  • Step 6: We implement the campaign strategy, which is normally a combination of activities such as research, producing White Papers, running Thought Leadership events, responding to consultations, holding meetings with key decision-makers and influencers, raising awareness through the press and so on

  • Step 7: We continue to facilitate the ongoing development of the Special Interest Group's work

 

Q: Can I join more than one Special Interest Groups?

A: Yes, please do! - we could do with as much involvement as we can possibly get

 

Q: Can I ask my friends, colleagues and acquaintances to consider getting involved?

A: Yes, please do! - the TTF has grown by word of mouth so we would appreciate you doing whatever you can to let people you know have a chance to get involved. Please forward them a link to this web page so they can read about what we are doing and decide for themselves if they want to be included.

 

.........................................................................................................

Here's a very short overview to explain each of the Special Interest Groups including the new SIGS that were launched in January 2019:

 

GTI

GTI is for people that are involved in developing our Global Transparency Index. This will highlight pro-transparency best practice around the world. It will allow countries to benchmark themselves against others in terms of how transparent their financial services ecosystems are (particularly their pensions industries). The Global Transparency Index is designed to be an invaluable resource for Governments and Regulators. Our initial focus is the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands and the GTI will be a ground-breaking development that will accelerate the rate at which the Financial Services industry around the world moves to a more transparent state; and therefore a fairer and more efficient state, enabling better outcomes for millions of people globally.

 

Market Integrity

The Market Integrity SIG consists of over 50 senior executives from Financial Services Trade Bodies, Professional Associations, Standards Boards and similar; all working together to improve the overall effectiveness of the UK’s Financial Services Codes of Conduct, with a view to positively impacting market behaviour. The ground-breaking work of this Team will help to improve outcomes for consumers and help restore confidence in the Sector by raising the bar in terms of the standards of ethics, professionalism, conduct and integrity. The team has been liaising with the Financial Conduct Authority, which has an inherent interest in the topic if market integrity.

 

Costs & Charges

Transparency on costs & charges is so important because it will encourage a more competitive and efficient market and thereby generate better net results to savers and investors, particularly pensions savers. The highlights so far was a very special meeting held at the House of Commons in September 2016 that was Co-Chaired by Tom Tugendhat MBE MP. The event was the first ‘Transparency Strategy Summit’ in the World, and dealt with the question: “What can we collectively do to help protect the UK’s pension savers from hidden costs and charges?” 

 

We presented our research on costs and charges; and it even got covered on the front page of the Financial Times. The Team continues to campaign for pro-consumer reform and has been highly engaged with the relevant UK Regulators and Government Departments, particularly the Financial Conduct Authority, the FCA’s Institutional Disclosure Working Group, The Competition & Markets Authority, The Pensions Regulator, The Financial Reporting Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Work and Pensions Select Committee. 

 

Our efforts played an important part in the Work and Pensions Select Committee opening an enquiry into costs and transparency in pensions. 

 

Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange market is full of opacity that adversely affects consumers and even institutional investors. Our FX SIG published a constructive critique of the Global FX Code in July 2017, explaining why the Code doesn’t go far enough to make costs in FX sufficiently transparent. The White Paper drew acknowledgement and response from the Competition & Markets Authority and the Economic Secretary at HM Treasury. The SIG continues to shine a light on the reforms needed to help create a fair, transparent, competitive and efficient FX market that delivers value for money to the individuals and institutions that use it. 

 

EMEA

EMEA is for people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa that want to work together to deal with opacity-related problems in their part of the world’s financial ecosystem. 

 

Pensions (NEW SIG)

The Pensions SIG will be looking to shine a light on many issues that are relevant to driving good outcomes for pension savers.

 

The scope of the SIG will be very extensive - we will be looking into Auto Enrolment, DC Pensions, DB Pensions, CDC; accumulation and decumulation. 

 

In general terms our focus will be on what reforms are needed to maximise the value for money that pension savers get. The SIG's specific campaign objectives will be decided by its members, as with all our groups, but here are some of the possibilities:

  • Error rates in AE
  • Scheme selection issues in AE
  • Value for money
  • The Net Pay/Relief at Source scandal
  • Regulatory arbitrage between GPPs and MasterTrusts
  • CDC; how can we help build the momentum?
  • DB liabilities - do they need recalibrating?
  • Scheme governance - is it as good as it should be?
  • Scheme consolidation - would members be better off?

The first conference call will be in January - see the table at the bottom of this page for all the details but please also be sure to complete the short form on this page to join our Pensions SIG if you haven't already done so - the button to click onto is near the top of this page.  

 

We can do with as many professionally-minded people joining the Pensions SIG as possible so please do get involved; apart from anything else it will be very beneficial from a networking point of view. 

 

Fintech (NEW SIG)

Financial Technology is a natural ally of transparency and all that the TTF is looking to achieve, because:

  • Fintech makes possible the systematic production and reporting of data that consumers need to make well-informed decisions about financial matters
  • Fintech can drive down the sector's cost base through enhancing and harnessing interoperability; thereby enabling consumers to get better value for money from the financial products and services they use
  • Fintech can drive interoperability across the industry as a whole, providing the consumer with a more "joined up" user experience as well as far superior data security

TTF's Fintech SIG is therefore for individuals representing organisations that have technologies available that positively align with the TTF's overall aims and objectives to help drive better outcomes for consumers

 

Communications (NEW SIG)

Transparency generates data that has the potential to be useful. Whether it is useful or not depends on how well the data is turned into clear and intelligible information; and that's the job of communications and communications professionals.

 

Our communications SIG is for individuals that like the idea of working collaboratively with like-minded people to help improve the standard of communications throughout financial services

 

Banking

Our Banking SIG has been campaigning for the Banks to treat their business and retail customers in a more transparent way; for example, by changing the way Banks describe their ‘free if in credit’ current accounts and how charges are applied. The highlight so far has been the publication of a well-received White Paper on our reform proposals, presented at special meeting held at the House of Commons in June 2017 and Chaired by Lord Cromwell. The event and White Paper was covered by The Times. Very good progress has been made on the opacity of costs and charges front; and the SIG is now looking at what more can be done for Banks to properly support those that have been scammed. 

 

One of the SIG's leaders, Heather Buchanan, is Director of Policy & Strategy at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Stability; which the team actively supports. 

 

Financial Planning (NEW SIG)

Financial Planning, when done well is hugely valuable but there is a great deal of variance in the levels of quality, transparency and professionalism in the sector. It is clear that whilst some financial planners operate to the very highest ethical standards (thereby embracing transparency as a force for good); others seem not to. 

 

This new SIG is for those in the financial planning sector that want to drive greater professionalism into the sector.

 

Anti-Scams

Many scam victims have been battling for years to try to get the justice they deserve. In some cases they have lost everything; there have even been some that have paid the ultimate price for the criminal activities of monstrous individuals that have tricked them out of their life savings and pension funds.

 

This SIG is doing all it can to try to help scam victims by providing them with support.

 

We are also doing all we can to try to prevent scams from happening in the first place, particularly pension scams.

 

Please get involved if you need help or if you want to help; or both. 

 

PISCES:

This SIG is about the world’s capital markets becoming a ‘force for good’. To explain the name of the SIG: the P is for Purpose; I is for Impact Investing; S is for Sustainability; C is for Climate Change; E is for Environment, Social and Governance; and S is for Socially Responsible Investing. There is tremendous scope for the way the financial services sector influences what happens in our world and this SIG's lead campaign is what we call “Mandatory Fact-Finding,” an idea that financial advisers should establish whether their clients have any values-based preferences (for example, to not invest in a manner that worsens climate change) before recommending a suitable investment fund. 

 

Asset Management

This SIG is about encouraging the world’s Asset Managers to behave in a more progressive and pro-consumer way; to be more determined to put their clients’ interests first, wherever possible. 

 

The overall purpose is to facilitate collaboration between asset managers that have a more enlightened and progressive approach than most, to drive better outcomes for their clients.

 

The SIG was launched in response to the Financial Conduct Authority’s Asset Management Market Study which was justifiably critical of the way some Asset Managers have been operating. 

 

The leading campaign initiative has been to re-energise the idea that asset managers should work to a code of conduct, centred around looking after the interests of their clients as best as they can. 

 

Financial Stability

The Financial Stability SIG was launched on 13th September 2017, at a Transparency Symposium held in London entitled “It must never happen again!”. The event was all about the causes and consequences of the Global Financial Crisis and in particular the part that a lack of transparency played. The date of the event was chosen because it marked the 10-year anniversary, to the day, that Northern Rock collapsed. 

 

The Financial Stability SIG has been working together to establish what more can be done by Governments and Regulators around the World to build greater resilience into the financial ecosystem. This is important work because the overall conclusion from our 13th September event is that despite the fact that we are ‘10 years on’ from the Global Financial Crisis there are many risks that have still not been mitigated fully. We want to shine a light on that, in a collaborative, constructive and consensus-building way.

 

The SIG produced a White Paper entitled “Ideas to help reduce the chance of another Global Financial Crisis” which we presented at the House of Commons on 7th February 2018. The meeting went very well; so much so that it has initiated the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Stability; we are very proud of that – over 15 Parliamentarians will be involved in developing fledgling policy initiatives for subsequent evaluation by organisations such as The Bank of England, The Financial Conduct Authority, The Financial Reporting Council and so on.

 

APAC

APAC is for people in Asia Pacific that want to work together to deal with opacity-related problems in their part of the world’s financial ecosystem. 

 

Americas

Americas is for people in The Americas, (North and South) that want to work together to deal with opacity-related problems in their part of the world’s financial ecosystem. The Americas SIG is particularly focused on campaigning for the widespread adoption of the Fiduciary Standard, which is all about advisers putting the interests of their clients before themselves. 

 

Investment Consulting & Fiduciary Management (NEW SIG)

This SIG has been created as a response to the Competition & Market Authority's investigation into the investment consulting and fiduciary management sector. The CMA are recommending significant changes to the sector to deal with issues that are thought to be preventing the best possible outcomes for investors; and it is thought that they might be bringing the sector within the regulatory perimeter. 

 

The SIG is for individuals that like the idea of working collaboratively with like-minded people to help improve the way the sector operates; particularly in relation to the areas that the CMA have been critical of. 

 

Compliance/Legal/Audit/Regulatory/Governance/Custodian/Risk Management/General Counsel (NEW SIG)

 

The financial services sector is profoundly important to the wellbeing of society. It is a sector that has to be trusted to function correctly yet it often behaves in a manner that leads to distrust. In fact, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, financial services is the least trusted sector of all. That's a systemic problem to be solved, given the harsh reality that the financial services sector relies on being trusted.

 

Our Special Interest Group for Compliance, Legal, Audit, Regulatory, Governance, Custodian, Risk Management and General Counsel Professionals is for people that like the idea of working across an often siloed part of the market that is absolutely essential to keeping the financial services sector "on the straight and narrow."

 

We anticipate that by working collaboratively the SIG’s members can become more inclusive, proactive and purposeful; thinking about the “bigger picture” more than they ordinarily would.

 

We will be looking to find ways to help pre-empt the kind of systemic market failings that prevent consumers getting good outcomes and cause extensive reputational damage for the sector.

 

This SIG should appeal to anybody whose professional purpose is to guard against malfeasance, misconduct and malpractice; and or deal with the outfall when it occurs. 

 

Whistleblowing (NEW SIG)

Individuals that blow the whistle as a result of becoming aware of malpractice, malfeasance, miss-selling, misconduct or even outright criminal activity within the financial services sector provide a valuable service to society.

 

By reporting what is happening that should not be, they help to accelerate the rate at which the organisations, regulators and the judiciary can put things right and deal with offenders appropriately.

 

However, blowing the whistle can be challenging and fraught with all kinds of problems and risks. The sort of questions that might go through the mind of somebody that is considering whether to report something include:

  • What if I’m wrong and I’m just misinterpreting what is happening?
  • What if it all gets very messy and I have to appear as a witness in court?
  • How will the perpetrators respond to what I have done? – will they “come after me” in some way?
  • What will this do to my career prospects where I work?
  • What will my work colleagues, friends and family think of what I have done?
  • If I leave the firm, what will this do to my job prospects?
  • Will I come to regret it?
  • Should I just side-step all the grief by not reporting and hope somebody else does?
  • Do I have a moral, professional, or legal responsibility to report?
  • Could this all backfire for me somehow?
  • What if the press get involved?
  • Others seem comfortable and able to turn a blind eye about what is going on. Am I just over-reacting to what I have learned?
  • There is so much uncertainty - would I come to regret it?
  • Should I just play safe and ignore what I know?
  • What if it gets seriously serious?
  • Would I be placing myself and my family in some kind of danger?
  • How confident am I that “the system” will protect me for doing what I believe to be the right thing?

It is widely accepted that being a whistle-blower brings challenges; and sometimes those challenges can be mountainous. 

 

This Special Interest Group has many aims, which include:

  • Shining a great big bright light on the issues impacting whistleblowing
  • Promoting whistleblowing as a good thing to; because it is
  • Providing moral, social, and technical support to whistleblowers
  • To facilitate the sharing of knowledge, insights and experience amongst whistleblowers
  • To constructively challenge the way “the system” deals with whistleblowers with a view to identifying potential improvements to the rules and regulations that surround it
  • Carrying out meaningful research and analysis; presenting that information to regulators and other key stakeholders
  • Helping to accelerate the journey towards defining and disseminating best practice; such that society as a whole can benefit from the valuable service whistleblowers provide; and helping to ensure that the risks and problems connected to becoming a whistleblower are minimised as much as possible

If you have been or might decide to become a whistleblower please enquire about being included in this important Special Interest Group. We are especially keen to hear from those that have knowledge, insight and experience that might be useful to helping others; plus those who are thinking about becoming a whistleblower and what to know what support might be available.

 

Private Equity (NEW SIG)

Private equity investing is not known for consistent investor reporting standards across the market; we are confident that the Transparency Task Force "sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach can help to accelerate the rate at which this part of the market moves to a state of greater transparency and efficiency with standards and best practices. 

 

Improved reporting for institutional investors, or limited partners (LPs), in private equity creates greater assurance and better data quality for LPs to rely upon for portfolio monitoring, analysis, and major decision-marking. 

 

This additional transparency is healthy for the overall private equity space with, proper standardisation, improved benchmarking and data validation.

 

For pension schemes invested in private equity, the pension trustees, and those responsible for running the pension schemes are likely to be the main beneficiaries of this SIG's work. 

 

Hedge Funds (NEW SIG)

Like private equity, Hedge Funds are not known for their transparency; and we are confident that the Transparency Task Force "sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach can help to accelerate the rate at which this part of the market moves to a state of true transparency.

 

Essentially, the problem with the Hedge Funds Market is that “there is no referee” and therefore it is very difficult to ensure the consumer is treated fairly. 

 

Perhaps the members of this Special Interest Group can find ways to make a difference?

.........................................................................................................

Our SIGs are not just ‘talking-shops’ or a ‘whinge-fests’ – they are pragmatically undertaking work that can, will and already has made a difference.

 

They are a consensus-building 'coalition of the willing', working together to be 'part of the solution'. We are proud of our collective efforts to make a difference; especially given how little resource we have to work with. 

 

Each SIG has at least one campaign worthwhile project underway, designed to harness the transformational power of transparency to drive the much-needed change that the consumer deserves and the reputation of the Financial Services sector needs.

Given how much needs sorting in Financial Services we’re obviously going to be busy for a long and we’re always on the lookout for good people that want to get involved.

 

So if you would ‘rather stand up than stand by’ and would like to know more about how you can get included and do your bit please contact through andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Or, if you already know which Special Interest Group(s) you want to be included in, click on the button below and complete the very short form:

HUGE THANKS to our SIG members and Ambassadors.

 

You can download the spreadsheet below to see who they are, and beneath that there is a table showing all the details you need for our next round of conference calls.

 

Please note that any government employees, officials or regulators included in the spreadsheet that can be downloaded below are involved in an observing-only capacity.

All TTF SIG members and Ambassadors as at 4th April 2019
Team members and Ambassadors 4th April 2[...]
Microsoft Excel sheet [54.0 KB]

FULL DETAILS FOR THE NEXT ROUND OF CONFERENCE CALLS:

 

SPECIAL INTERST GROUP

DIAL-IN DETAILS

UK TIMES

DATE

       

Market Integrity

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

9:00 to 9:30 UK

 

Monday 1st April

 

 

 

 

Banking

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

11:00 to 11:30 UK

Monday 1st April

 

 

 

 

Foreign Exchange

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

13:00 to 13:30 UK

Monday 1st April

 

 

 

 

 

Financial Stability 

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

15:00 to 15:30 UK

Monday 1st April

 

 

 

 

Costs & Charges

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

9:00 to 9:30 UK

Tuesday 2nd April

 

 

 

 

Pensions

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

11:00 to 11:30 UK

Tuesday 2nd April

 

 

 

 

Investment Consulting  

& Fiduciary Management

Dial: 0333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

13:00 to 13:30 UK

Tuesday 2nd April

 

 

 

 

Asset Management

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

15:00 to 15:30 UK

Tuesday 2nd April

 

 

 

 

PISCES 

 

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

9:00 to 9:30 UK

Wednesday 3rd April

       

Compliance/Legal/Audit/Regulatory/

Governance/Custodian/Risk Management/General Counsel

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

11:00 to 11:30 UK

Wednesday 3rd April

       

Communications

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

13:00 to 13:30 UK

Wednesday 3rd April

       
Fintech

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

15:00 to 15:30 UK

 

Wednesday 3rd April

       
Financial Planning

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

9:00 to 9:30 UK Thursday 4th April
       
Anti-Scams

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

11:00 to 11:30 UK Thursday 4th April
       
Whistleblowing

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

13:00 to 13:30 UK Thursday 4th April
       

Private Equity

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

15:00 to 15:30 UK Thursday 4th April
       
Hedge Funds

Dial: +44 (0)333 44 33 44 3

Room: 78371389#

PIN: 7188#

17:00 to 17:30 UK Thursday 4th April
       

APAC

 

See notes at the bottom of the table for dial-in details*

02:00 to 02:30 UK

(Yes, 2AM UK!)

Friday 5th April

 

 

 

 

EMEA

See notes at the bottom of the table for dial-in details*

11:00 to 11:30 UK

Friday 5th April

 

 

 

 

GTI

See notes at the bottom of the table for dial-in details*

13:00 to 13:30 UK

Friday 5th April

 

 

 

 

Americas

 

See notes at the bottom of the table for dial-in details*

15:00 to 15:30 UK

Friday 5th April

 

*For the dial-in details for the APAC, EMEA, GTI and Americas SIGS, see your country's dial-in details by clicking this link: 

http://www.buzzconferencing.co.uk/services/international-conference-calls.php

IMPORTANT: If your country isn't listed call the UK number (+44 845 545 5055) as this works from anywhere in the world.

Regardless of the dial-in number you use for these SIGS your Participant PIN is 3904336

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