Jeff Prestridge  

Take charge of planning

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

This analysis should become as much a regular feature of the financial calendar as the complaints data published by the Financial Ombudsman Service on individual companies is. The Fos’s work enables consumers to get a good idea of which companies are likely to give you a stellar level of service and handle any complaint you have seriously. It also highlights those companies that treat most complaints with utter contempt.

There are plenty of other examples of financial empowerment in action. Most (not all) providers of financial protection insurance now publish half-yearly claims data. Such information has helped restore consumer (and adviser) faith in an insurance that many people previously avoided on the basis they never thought a claim would ever be met.

Some protection insurance executives would rather not continue publishing such detail, but they are financial Neanderthals who should consider careers elsewhere (I hear milkmen are making a comeback).

The likes of Fairer Finance, headed by consumer champion James Daley, have also empowered the consumer by giving them a clearer idea of which companies will give them a good deal. Not in terms of price, but based on a matrix of factors including complaints handling, product transparency and customer satisfaction.

Consumer group Which? (loved and hated in equal measure) also publishes useful data on customer service standards.

Of course there is more that can be done to empower us financially. Products need to be more transparent, especially on the charges front. They should also be simpler without onerous terms and conditions. More financial education, starting in schools, is also a must.

In a nutshell, financial empowerment is a force for good. It enriches us all, whether we are advisers, planners or consumers. Bring it on. More please.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday