The entire financial services sector is going through a period of massive change. The introduction of stakeholder Pensions has forced would-be providers to modernise their systems. The arrival of the Internet and online services has created new business opportunities with the need for new infrastructure. However, there is only so much that companies can take on using in-house resources before the constraints in their internal capabilities end up being a barrier to progress.
The current plethora of proposed changes to regulation and consideration of the practices of the insurance and investment industry may earn 2002 the accolade of being the year of the review.
The recent warning by Financial Services Authority chairman Sir Howard Davies to life and general insurance companies to strengthen their capital base to avoid future business collapses has hit home.
IT IS no surprise that Standard Life and Scottish Widows are leading the way in a current programme designed to bring on the next generation of business-minded young individuals.
There is something of a rule about government interventions in markets which says that all attempts to simplify things inevitably lead to more and more complexity.
At one time Scotland had nine long-established life assurance offices but they have been picked off one by one in a constantly changing financial services sector and now only one - the mighty Standard Life - can claim to be truly independent, although there has been one attempt at ridding it of its mutual status and there is always the threat of another.
The change in currency may have affected over 500 million people - with a dozen first wave countries now using the euro - but it has not changed the fact that life and pensions products continue to form the bedrock of everyone’s lives.