Treasury to publish ISA bench-marks

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The Independent Online
By Nic Cicutti

THE TREASURY is today expected to publish a bench-marking system for its proposed new tax-free Individual Savings Account (ISA) in an attempt to ensure consumers are protected from excessive charges and disadvantageous returns.

The Treasury paper contains proposals for a so-called CAT standard to be applied to ISAs. The name is based on an acronym of the three areas the Treasury wants to see covered by the CAT: reasonable costs, easy access and decent terms.

The proposals come despite warnings by Howard Davies, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog expected to police the CAT standards, that such a move might not work if it implies a guaranteed return or general suitability to investors.

But the Treasury believes its proposed system will stop short of such guarantees. The aim will be to ensure that consumers do not find the products they buy have hidden catches.