Altmann to be peer and consumer minister if Tories win May election

Altmann to be peer and consumer minister if Tories win May election

Ros Altmann has been nominated as a Conservative peer and could be appointed as minister with responsibility for financial consumer protection and financial education, prime minister David Cameron has announced.

Part of her remit, should the Conservative party form the next government, would be to carry out a major review of financial fairness for consumers.

This would include charge caps for pension products to protect savers from excessive fees; improved rights for older consumers, especially in the mortgage market; promoting competition and innovation for savers and a review of financial fairness and extending financial guidance to younger savers

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The Conservatives had already pledged to help older people buy their homes by clamping down on lenders who refused to give them loans, and said a future Tory government would launch a review into possible ageism, led by Ms Altmann.

The former Labour pension adviser to the policy unit at 10 Downing Street said her remit would also cover whether the government should extend Pension Wise to younger age groups, and would overlook the development of the service to allow working people to receive financial education and guidance at every stage of life, not just at retirement.

“I know how important it will be to ensure customers are treated fairly by the large financial companies. It is vital to roll out financial education to everyone, not just those nearing the end of their working life, as well as checking that all fees and charges are fair and clear,” she said.

Ms Altmann added that the pension reforms had been an opportunity to help long-term savings work better for ordinary families, to help restore a strong British savings culture.

In July 2014, Ms Altmann was appointed the coalition’s business champion with the brief to support the over-50s, particularly with pensions and retirement policy, investment, savings, annuities and social care funding.

Adviser View

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Bristol-based Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “We have mixed feelings about this. Ms Altmann has a strong reputation for speaking up for consumers on personal finance matters, particularly on pensions. However, her remit will cover consumer protection and financial education, tasks already performed by the FCA and MAS.

“The priority and measure of success for any savings and investment minister should be encouraging more people to save and invest. Unfortunately, this is still not being taken seriously enough by any of the political parties, and does not seem to be within the scope of this role either.”