Refuseniks hold out against joining PIA

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The Independent Online
LEADING financial institutions yesterday expressed strong reservations about joining the Personal Investment Authority, the new regulator for retail financial products from next month.

Despite Lloyds Bank's confirmation that it has finally applied for membership, other prominent refuseniks said they would not join yet. Only Prudential has firmly opted instead for direct regulation by the Securities and Investments Board, the senior financial regulator, but other firms, including Allied Dunbar, Standard Life and Halifax Building Society, said they had not decided.

Allied Dunbar said it had always looked for ways to join the PIA, and had been working with the regulators for many months to overcome problems. However, there had been too little industry influence over its creation.

A spokeswoman for Standard Life, whose UK chief executive, Jim Stretton, resigned from the PIA's board in February, said: 'We are not yet convinced that the best interests of our customers would be served by rejecting the PIA, but we have not made our minds up.'

Lloyds made it clear that its application was reluctant, but had felt there was no choice. Last week its regulator, Imro, the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation, said it would no longer supervise big sellers of retail products.