“Who should savers really trust? The answer could be simply: themselves and each other”
Martin White, UK Shareholders' Association
Better Finance Slovenia 2021
STC news September 2021: UKSA directors Helen Gibbons and Martin White attended the BetterFinance International Investors’ Conference in Slovenia. See here for details of the event in the Better Finance website. See here in this UKSA site for material we have produced for attendees at the conference and anyone else who may be interested. Further material may be added in the future in response to any subsequent discussions.
We were made very welcome at the event; Helen, as a long-standing attendee at Better Finance events, felt it was one of the best ever, and the Slovenian hospitality was superb.
Savers Take Control (STC) is:
- a campaign to create public awareness of the way the savings industry operates ……
- ….. to generate the political force for change
- ….. and restore the rights and influence for good of the private investor
‘Savers’: because we aim to reach not just current investors but all those who should be investors, or may become investors, or are investors without knowing it through intermediaries.
‘Take’: because entrenched and powerful interests will never give up their privileged position. It has to be taken.
‘Control’: …. to the extent granted by law to shareholders and denied to investors by intermediation.
Intellectual argument over 30 years has achieved very little. To achieve anything we must apply political pressure. We must build a populist movement to support the intellectual case.
This needs two things:
- Build trust
- Build public understanding
To build trust we will be:
- Professionally competent
To maintain independence we will:
- be funded by membership fees and donations only
- disclose all potential conflicts of interest
To demonstrate professional competence we will:
- identify members who are distinguished in relevant fields to be our Champions
- retain and enhance our capacity to respond to technical consultations with professional bodies, regulators and government
To build public understanding:
- We offer basic guidance aimed at those with little prior understanding of the savings landscape
- We will enhance public awareness at every opportunity
- We support a basic guidance website, HonestMoneyNow
- We will support education programmes aimed at young investors
- We will be active in social media, print media and public debate
People are key. Campaigning for the cause will produce supporters in the following categories:
- Champions, who are invited members with a distinguished and independent reputation whose endorsement verifies competence and independence.
- Volunteers, with skills they are prepared to offer the organisation unpaid
- Members, who pay a membership fee and have access to all membership benefits and voting rights
- Supporters, who may make donations but do not claim membership benefits
All income is derived from member fees and donations.
The essence of this new approach is that savers themselves must take control of the investment chain. Martin White, UKSA Director, first laid out the issues in September 2017 at a symposium of the Transparency Task Force.
Martin's PowerPoint presentation, together with the full presenter's notes, can be downloaded here.
Alternatively, a PDF of the presentation (without notes) can be viewed here.
Martin's articles on Savers Take Control from the April 2018 edition of The Private Investor can be found here.
Details of Martin's presentation to the Department of Mathematics at the University of Liverpool in June 2019, entitled "Aspects of stewardship: wealth creation, working lives, wealth extraction – the needs, the education and empowerment of individuals, and the relevance and contribution of the actuarial profession" can be found here.
The February 2020 issue of The Private Investor signalled the formal launch of the STC project.
The June 2020 issue of The Private Investor contains four articles on STC which are intended to be a self-contained introduction for new readers.
“Who should savers really trust? The answer could be simply: themselves and each other” Martin White, UK Shareholders' Association
We worked with Business and Industry on the 2020 Money Management campaign. We wrote two articles, “Responsible Investing” and “Savers Take Control”. A printed publication was enclosed within every copy of the Guardian newspaper on 15 September 2020 and the content is available online here and here.
Is the FCA failing consumers? Perhaps not so unthinkable after all?
Back in September 2020, the FCA issued a “Call for Input on Consumer Investments” (CFI). We put in a hefty, hard-hitting submission in December. None of the submissions have been published by the FCA, which we feel is rather a disgrace. Here is the link to our news story:-
The key point is what consumers need above everything is to know just how to minimise the total expense take. But guess what – that’s the one thing the financial sector doesn’t want us to focus on. Reading between the lines of the CFI, there is no doubt that the FCA understand this. But they propose nothing to address the problem.
We have more recently seen another consultation from the FCA, CP 21/13 “A New Consumer Duty”. It can be found at CP21/13: A new Consumer Duty | FCA. This addresses a number of ways in which financial companies should behave better towards consumers. But once again, it fails to address the key problem, which is the lack of transparency and meaningful information available to consumers about costs. The consultation closes on 31 July 2021.
The Treasury Committee deliberates on future of financial services
There is a Triggered by Brexit, at Future of Financial Services - Committees - UK Parliament you will find Call for evidence - Committees - UK Parliament
There is a theme running through the call for evidence along the lines: this is a wonderful industry for the UK. However the one question that explicitly mentions the customers: How should consumer interests be taken into account when considering potential regulatory changes?
In February 2021, Martin White put in a submission, that can be found at https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/25293/pdf/ that was not designed for popularity in the financial sector. The most important was in the first paragraph, reproduced here:
"I recommend that decisions about how the UK financial services sector should be regulated should not be made without first considering the impact of the financial services sector on society as a whole. The behaviour of the financial sector not only influences the financial outcomes from retail savings, but it also influences the behaviour and culture within businesses as a whole. Problems of short-termism, under-investment in future competitiveness, bonus culture, executive greed, all could be argued to originate within the way in which the financial sector operates."
The submission also explains the purpose of the Savers Take Control Project.
If you would like to discuss contributing to this project, please e-mail Martin White STC@uksa.org.uk.
You can register your interest in STC and receive further information by occasional email by clicking here. There is no fee for this, and we will not share your details with anyone else.