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Government sets out plan for simple financial products

The Sergeant Review has outlined plans for three simple financial products that everybody should have.


by Michelle McGagh on Aug 02, 2012 at 14:26

Government sets out plan for simple financial products

The financial services industry launches a plethora of new products every year, each promising better rates and terms than the last. This abundance of options can be overwhelming, but the government may have found a solution with proposals for a new range of 'kite-marked' accounts.

An independent steering group led by former Lloyds banking executive Carol Sergeant was set up by the government last year to develop a range of simple financial products.

It has now published its interim report, the Sergeant Review, detailing a suite of products it believes will help consumers better engage with financial services.

Restoring trust in financial services

Mark Hoban, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘The government is committed to putting the consumer back at the heart of the financial system, but we understand that restoring public trust in financial products is not an easy take at the moment.

‘I am pleased to say that "simple" financial products offer a unique opportunity to demonstrate that products can both be easy to understand and meet customers’ most important financial needs.’

The Sergeant Review set out recommendations for a suite of products and a rating system that will be consulted on in time for a final review to be published in the summer of 2013.

What types of products are there?

The review has looked at delivering three simple products that most people should have and ‘address some of the financial issues people will face during their working life, before they take their pension’.

Two of these are savings accounts. The report sets out details for the creation of both an easy-access savings account and a 30-day notice account.

The easy-access account is described by the report as a product for ‘everyday savings that can be accessed immediately if needed for an emergency or rainy day’.

What the accounts will offer

The minimum deposit would be £1, but a maximum balance has not been recommended. There should be no restriction on how money can be deposited or withdrawn or how frequently it must be paid in.

Neither will there be any day-to-day charges on the accounts, although charges would be allowed for exceptional items such as duplicate statements or other administration requests.

The 30-day-notice account would follow much the same rules as the easy-access account, with the one difference being that if the saver wants to withdraw money from the account they would have to give 30 days’ notice. The review described this account as ‘for savings that can be accessed with 30 days’ notice for expected expenditure’.

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17 comments so far. Why not have your say?

John Lacy

Aug 02, 2012 at 17:24

Simplistic rather than simple.

Statistics say that you are far more likely to have a prolonged break in your earnings caused by illness or injury than to die before retirement.

Income protection is the most pressing need particularly as the government are trying to save money on sickness and invalidity payments.

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Ian Lewthwaite

Aug 02, 2012 at 17:27

It isa no good putting the public at the front of financial Services when the actions of the BoE do everything they can to control interest rates below what the market dictates, and then further devalues the pound with the senseless quantative easing.

If the BoE needs to pour unlimited funds into the banking system and it is still not solvent- let them go bankrupt and pay the price they deserve for their greed.

It would be a shock of course but better than the constant QE - just think of the boost to the UK economy if the £375Billion had been given back to the taxpayers and not the causal agents.

Like the Euro the politicians are the problem not the solution and the sooner the UK pulls out of the EU and the Health and Safety, and European court meddling in UK affairs the quicker the problem will be solved

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Alan Tonks

Aug 02, 2012 at 17:30

Well the one thing this Government is good at is giving financial advice, I don’t think.

Why would you want advice, from an organisation that cannot get its own financial act together?

The only thing financially, that this Government does know about, is how to cheat and lie about their expenses.

I would truly believe in this Government if they said, if you want money go and print your own.

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Roger Savage

Aug 02, 2012 at 17:43

Absolutely Alan and if "the government is keen for us all to save more" why does it happily collaborate with the BoE to devalue people's savings in line with inflation and reward those who chose NOT to save and be feckless and reckless?!

As for them trying to avoid individuals being a burden on the state, well that's equally as non-demonstrable by their actions elsewhere by encouraging home grown and imported spongers left, right and centre and forcing private sector workers to work their socks off to pay for gold-plated non-job public sector workers' (aka a burden) pensions.

I wouldn't trust anything the government or their equally crooked chums at the BoE said.

The real agenda is never what they claim it to be.

The real agenda IS to take, take, take from those who have the ability (in that I mean any money at all) and give it to those who take, take, take (i.e. the spongers - be it layabouts, politicians, lawyers, banks/bankers, housebuilders, criminals, non-job public sector workers, etc...)

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Aug 02, 2012 at 18:16

One of my family recently interviewed a job applicant who is 35 years old and has never worked. He and his wife are on unemployment benefit and they have 8 children. The job he was interviewed for was pushing around trollies, filling them and emptying them with relatively easy materials. He turned the job down because it wasn't for him! He must have turned a lot of jobs down over the years.


How many other people do exactly the same?

Solution:- child benefit for a maximum of 4 children (I know that's generous) and unemployment benefit cut if you don't take one of 12 job offers and then stay in work for at least 12 months.


Apologies but .......

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john brace

Aug 02, 2012 at 19:52

The last [literally] thing we need is a policy that pays out on death!

Or pension plans and savings that take more than they give.

This government would do better to ask for advice rather than give it

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Jeremy Bosk

Aug 02, 2012 at 20:29

All of these products are already widely available. Savings accounts for other than short term needs are just another way to lose money to inflation. Term insurance for those with dependants makes sense.

Long term savers need to become direct investors in equities and need to teach themselves financial literacy. Nobody will do it for you. Buying anything described as a financial product is saying to the provider, "Please rip me off. I am a gullible fool".

Any product designed by politicians will be worse than useless: just like its designers.

Those with a certain mind set, lots of capital and relevant skills can also provide for their futures through owning property, collectables, dealing in commodities etcetera.

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john errington

Aug 03, 2012 at 01:55

"everyone should have a savings account, a 30 day account and life insurance"

How much has it cost the government (ie US) to come up with this innovative plan?

Do I not remember a "national savings" scheme? And reading somewhere about "national insurance payments"?

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John Lacy

Aug 03, 2012 at 11:37

Martyn----The guy that you interviewed only turned up to prevent his benefits being stopped so there was no way that he was really interested---besides he's far better off on benefits than working so what is his incentive.

You are madly generous to suggest child benefit up to 4 children--I think 2 is about right.

Anyway why are we paying anyone to breed---surely that's their choice and they should bear the cost of raising their own family

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The Red Baron

Aug 03, 2012 at 12:18

After 32 years in this industry, it never ceases to amaze me that report after report only ever seems to repeat what's already available, easy access no notice savings accounts, cash ISA's & life assurance.

The fact of the matter remains, those whose priorities are booze, fags and plasma wide screen tv's will never ever be savers as long as I have an orifice in a certain part of my body!

Such is the mentality that, even if they were given money to invest, it would likely go on a booze cruise to Benidorm as opposed to being saved.

Why our money is repeatedly wasted on reviews such as these is quite frankly indicative of the current regime. It is they who constantly remind us of the necessary austerity measures we are expected to endure and yet they persist in squandering at every available opportunity.

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Aug 03, 2012 at 13:55

Good theory. How will it work in practice? These products already exist. Kite mark on all simple products. How will simple be defined? And if it is not designed to last for eternity, but instead phased out after a few years, in part because the products become redundant as the provider offers a new better product ,wont this just discourage those who really should save.

@ Red Baron how politically incorrect of you! but probably accurate.

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Jeremy Bosk

Aug 03, 2012 at 16:40

John Lacy

If nobody has children, who will wipe your bottom when you are too old and sick to do it yourself? Generally, the bottom wipers are the children of the poor.

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Jeremy Bosk

Aug 03, 2012 at 16:41

John Lacy


Of course we could always employ East European and third world immigrants to do the jobs nobody else wants for lousy wages. Oh, wait, we already do.

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John Lacy

Aug 03, 2012 at 16:57

Jeremy---you can be facetious if you want to but my point is valid--if you want a family you should be prepared to pay the cost out of your own pocket and not expect to be subsidised by other people.

Over population is the fastest way of making the planet uninhabitable so perhaps the day is coming when the west will have to adopt the chinese policy to try to control the over-use of resources. The other point of course is that most of those having large families are the very ones who don't pay for them--the ones that are working to try to make their own way might have one or two children but the ones who aren't paying and depending on state handouts don't care and have more and more.

The long term degeneration of the gene pool will be ruinous to everyone

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Jeremy Bosk

Aug 03, 2012 at 18:16


I agree that the wrong people breed faster than the rest of us and that the planet is grossly over populated. I also think that there will be jobs that cannot be performed very well by robots for a long time to come. The children of the respectable classes will not want to do them.

The Chinese are paying a terrible price for their extreme measures. Female infanticide and the importation of foreign prostitutes for the millions of excess men is just part of it. They will have a dependency ratio of workers to old people that - given the Chinese penchant for drastic measures - may well lead to compulsory euthanasia. India has a similar problem with female infanticide. Japan and several European countries have a very high ratio of old to young. Problems will abound unless we either encourage more births, allow in cheap and desperate foreign labour, develop very advanced domestic robots very quickly (the Japanese are trying hard because they are quite xenophobic) or encourage euthanasia.

I am quite convinced that the policies in this country towards the old and their savings is designed to make life not worth living and euthanasia more palatable.

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John Lacy

Aug 03, 2012 at 18:41

Jeremy----The old phrase that life's a bitch and then you die becomes ever more relevant.

Sod it--I'm going home to discuss the situation with a bottle of Glenlivet (sorry THE Glenlivet)--perhaps the planet will look a little better after about 10:00pm!!

Any more thoughts?---I'll pick up the thread again on Monday

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Jeremy Bosk

Aug 03, 2012 at 19:56


Regrettably, alcohol and I no longer agree with each other. Most enjoyable food is also off limits :-(

I favour more genetic research followed by incentives for the right people to breed and the rest to volunteer for neutering. No compulsion because it might upset people :-) For one thing we still are not sure either if some illnesses are genetic, to what degree or how they are transmitted. Hitler's policies towards the physically and mentally handicapped were frequently illogical as well as evil. Genetic interventions to help people with inherited diseases conceive healthy offspring are increasingly available.

Aside from genetic problems we have a great many people who are so badly damaged in non inherited ways that they are unfit to be parents and unlikely to become so with any amount of effort. Taking their children into care often replaces one evil with another. The care system needs more money and more intelligent management. That would include such un-British activities as evidence based policy making.

Repeated or serious crimes of violence could be reduced by permanent neutering. Describe it as a therapy and there might be more support. Addicts could be offered free and unlimited supplies of pharmaceutical grade poison of their choice on condition of voluntary neutering. Thus reducing both crimes against property and the number of unfit parents.

Of course almost all social problems could be cured by sufficient time effort and money being spent. But let's face it: the majority of people prefer to spend their money on prisons for criminals, policing, higher insurance premiums and hospital treatment for the victims. They like paying higher taxes because it gives them something to complain about. Anyway, thinking gives them a headache. Positive steps to prevent the misery would be un-British. Certainly un-Tory.

We are some way from simple financial products. But if the world's problems were simple; even the politicians would have solved them by now.

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