View from City Road: Holding out for a better PIA

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The Personal Investment Authority's 'deadline' for applications passed yesterday with little more than a third of its prospective 6,000 members having applied to join.

With Fimbra and Lautro expected to continue for some months after the PIA assumes its powers in July, the deadline is largely meaningless. However, the level of response does indicate the widespread lack of enthusiasm.

Some of the PIA's more vocal opponents, including Scottish Amicable and Friends Provident, have caved in to what Colette Bowe, the PIA's chief executive, would regard as the inevitable.

Only Prudential Corporation has had the courage of its convictions to defy the Treasury and the Securities and Investments Board by rejecting the PIA in favour of authorisation from the SIB itself.

Important, as yet undecided, dissidents remain: Halifax Building Society, BAT Industries (the owner of Allied Dunbar and Eagle Star), Lloyds Bank and Standard Life - the last of which seems to have had its resolve modestly strengthened by the Pru's stance.

It seems inconceivable that the new but already much-criticised regulator could survive rejection by all these leading institutions.

Some PIA opponents are still hoping for a last minute compromise. Rather than take the Pru's dismissive approach, they are offering to back the PIA in return for a commitment to future reform.

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