Costs & Charges Team

The Costs & Charges Team was the first Transparency Task Force Team to be formed and it has laser-like focus on making costs and charges in pensions and investments more transparent.

 

Transparency on costs & charges is so important because it will encourage a more competitive market and thereby generate better net results to savers and investors, particularly pensions savers. Because of the long-term nature of pensions investing, even a small reduction in overall charges can generate a huge improvement in outcomes for pensions savers when they reach retirement age. 

 

The highlight so far of the Costs & Charges Team's work has been its costs & charges research, presented on 1st July 2016 at a special meeting held at Cardano’s offices in London. The research was presented to senior representatives from:

 

  • The Financial Conduct Authority
  • The Pensions Regulator
  • The Pensions Management Institute
  • The Investment Association
  • The Department for Work and Pensions
  • The Financial Services Consumer Panel

…plus over 20 other relevant industry bodies and key market participants. The research and the event was covered on the front page of the Financial Times - not bad for an organisation wihout any PR budget (in fact no budget for anything!).

 

The Team’s principal Leader is Ralph Frank, CEO DC (UK) at Cardano, who is also an Ambassador of the Transparency Task Force.

 

Also, Ralph and others played a key part in a very special meeting, held at the House of Commons in September 2016 that I was extremely proud to have Co-Chaired with Tom Tugendhat MBE MP who has long been campaigning in his own right for greater transparency on costs and charges. Tom has been wonderfully supportive to the Transparency Task Force.

 

The event at the House of Commons 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?”

 

The following organisations wer ein attendance/involved:

 

  • The Financial Conduct Authority
  • The Pensions Regulator
  • The Investment Association
  • The Department for Work and Pensions
  • The Financial Services Consumer Panel
  • The Association of Member Nominated Trustees
  • The Pensions Administration Standards Association
  • The Pensions Advisory Service
  • The Association of British Insurers
  • Her Majesty’s Treasury
  • The Bank of England

...in fact, just about every relevant trade body and professional association took part in the discussion.

 

You can view the members in our Costs & Charges Team and all our other Teams, and our Ambassadors by downloading the spreadsheet that you can access through this link; scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

If you would like to know more, please contact me through andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Thank you!

Click on the icon below to read TTF's response to the Investment Association's proposed Cost Disclosure Template:

TTF Response to the Investment Association's Draft Cost Disclosure Code
TTF response to IA's Draft Cost Disclosu[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [292.9 KB]

The Great Divide

You can read the speech by  Andrew G. Haldane, FAcSS (the Bank of England's Chief Economist and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics) that he gave on 18th May 2016 at the New City Agenda Annual dinner.

 

The speech is entitled The Great Divide and it is a first class explanation of why the trust deficit really matters and why it makes sense to try to do something about it.

 

Please click on the green button to access it; if you're not convinced of its relevance to our initiative, here's part of it:

 

..."The most important and compelling message the Bank received at the Open Forum came in the first session. The Bank had conducted some polling of perceptions of the financial sector – for example, by asking people what one word best described the future of financial markets. Among the Bank’s usual contacts, including those in the financial sector, the most used word was “regulated”. Many of us will have heard that message from financial insiders concerned about the perils of over-zealous regulators.

 

For me, the more revealing responses came from the general public, from the customers, rather than the producers, of financial services. The word most used by them when describing financial markets was a rather different one: it was “corrupt”. Not far behind were words like “manipulated”, “self-serving”, “destructive” and “greedy”. I am sure many of you have heard those messages too. They are certainly ones I have encountered frequently on my visits around the country."...

 

Please click the green button  below to access the full speech. If you need to read another piece first, here it is:

 

..."At least until recently many economists like me, when faced with this evidence, might have shrugged our shoulders. Social capital had no real role in our models of economic growth, unlike physical capital and human capital. Trust did not butter our parsnips and nor did it enter our production functions.

 

Recently, however, that orthodoxy has changed and the importance of trust has become clearer.

 

Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity. 

 

At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.

 

Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.

 

Those social capital effects appear to be particularly potent when it comes to financial decisions. Evidence suggests that a lack of trust leads people to retreat from the stock market and banks and to move towards cash holdings and informal sources of credit, such as payday lenders and loan sharks. That jeopardises the second key benefit of finance to society – improved risk-sharing by households and companies.

 

So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.

 

That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.

 

The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being."...

 

Please click on the green button to access the full speech. If you're not yet convinced you should, here's a final snippet:

 

..." As a survey in 2013 of financial professionals found, rather remarkably, that over half believed their competitors engaged in illegal or unethical behaviour.  A smaller, but still high, fraction of 24% believed their own company engaged in such practices. Similar percentages believed their industry did not fulfil its fiduciary function of putting clients’ interests first.

The significance of these findings is not the precise percentages, as striking as these are.

 

More fundamentally, it is because of what they reveal about finance’s perception of itself, the mirror it holds to the social identity of finance."...

 

Click onto the button below to access the full speech; you'll be glad you did, it's profoundly thought-provoking for anybody interested in the future of the financial services industry:

If you are not already on the right page and want to read about our major international project to help rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services, click on the orange button below:

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