PracticeConsultingCall for Equitable to publish review

Call for Equitable to publish review

Paul Braithwaite, chairman of the Equitable Members' Action Group, says policyholders have a right to see a comprehensive financial review of the society, as promised to them by its new board.

The EMAG chairman said Equitable chief executive Charles Thompson had promised an ‘urgent and comprehensive financial review’ in April, following the appointment of the new board at the society’s agm.

Also at this meeting, non-executive chairman Vanni Treves pledged transparency and to publish everything not of a commercially damaging nature.

But, said Braithwaite, the review, which was paid for by policyholders, has not been released to them, and policyholders have not seen any ‘solid data’.

He told AccountancyAge.com: ‘In the year in which we suffered four body blows, the last of which has been the most devastating, everything has changed, but everything has stayed the same. Today we have no more financial information for policyholders and IFAs to take informed decisions on then we had a year ago.

‘This despite repeated reassurances from both the FSA and non-executive chairman Vanni Treves who promised that total transparency would be the new order.’

The ‘fourth body blow’, he said, (following the Law Lords ruling in July on GAR contracts; the inability to demutualise given that the fund was closed; and the sale of all business assets to Halifax) was Equitable Life’s decision to reduce the value of with profit policies by 16%.

The insurer said the devaluation of policies were due to a 20% drop in the value of global equity markets in last 18 months, insufficient asset backing for known liabilities and large number of policyholders ‘crystalising’ their policies.

But Braithwaite said these explanations ‘did not add up’ and were ‘an insult to the intelligence of policyholders’. He called on Vanni Treves to honour his pledge of transparency and publish the financial review, which policyholders had paid for.

The Equitable Board has said it would publish the Financial Review as long as it did not contain anything of a commercially damaging nature. Braithwaite said that since Equitable Life now operated as a closed fund there were no competition considerations.

‘We’ve been assured that the devaluation has brought assets into a sound cover position of liabilities, adding, policyholders and IFAs desperately need comprehensive financial facts on which to make informed decisions. None are available.’

Equitable life could not be reached for comment today.

Links

FSA criticised over Equitable

Equitable Members’ Action Group

Equitable Life

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