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Mar 29, 2023
Germany, France Oppose EU Push to Shake Up Banks’ Investing Fees
(Bloomberg) -- Germany, France, Italy and seven other European Union nations expressed opposition to a proposed ban on fees that funds pay banks to offer their investments, citing risks it could reduce advice to savers and the source of capital that they represent.
A proposed EU ban of so-called inducements and fees “would run the risk of destabilizing existing distribution channels of savings products,” the 10 finance ministries wrote in a joint letter to the European Commission seen by Bloomberg.
The EU’s executive arm is scheduled soon to present a wider “Retail Investment Strategy” after finding that financial advisers including banks often recommend that customers buy more expensive or unsuitable options. Products with inducements are 35% more expensive on average, EU financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness said in January.
“I want consumers to have access to financial advice, but biased advice doesn’t serve them either,” she said. “So it’s a question of what is the advice and is it in their best interest.”
The officials from the 10 nations said that they are “confident that alternative measures” to a ban can be explored, including tackling the risk of conflict of interests or ensuring “that retail investors effectively receive value for their money,” according to the letter.
Lobby groups including the German Investment Funds Association have also criticized the proposed ban. They say smaller savers benefit from the current set-up with lower fees relative to larger investors and that consumers can already choose to pay for investment advice via commissions or direct fees.
The officials also wrote that there’s still room for improving Europe’s regulatory framework, “including as a priority to make sure that the conditions are met for retail investors to safely channel a higher share of their savings toward productive investment, notably the funding of the energy transition.”
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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