Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending the trustee meeting of the FairLife Foundation. The trustees agreed the first two FairLife ‘marks’, approved the awarding of the first five personal loan marks and approved the public launch of FairLife.
FairLife is modelled on the Fairtrade concept – you know that if your bananas or coffee carries the Fairtrade logo certain standards of behaviour have been met. FairLife transports that concept of minimum standards to the UK financial services industry. So a lender wishing to place the FairLife mark on its loan products needs to meet three criteria which cover the maximum permissible interest rate, how the lender interacts with credit rating agencies, and how the lender prices their quote.
The second mark to be approved is slightly different in nature. It is the pension funding mark, which carries one to five stars. It is hoped that employers will apply for the mark and apply it to the pensions they provide their employees – for example on benefit statements, private and public websites, or on job adverts (“we are a 4-star pension provider”). Wide scale adoption of the pension funding mark would clearly help raise the profile of the entire FairLife concept, in turn hopefully fuelling demand for further adoption of product marks by financial services providers. Many of these product marks are already in the pipeline, for example for pay-day loans, mortgages, asset management products and annuities.
Clearly, having just launched the Thinking Ahead Institute (which aims to change the investment industry for the benefit of the end saver), I am very excited by the FairLife initiative – which is seeking to introduce minimum standards across the whole of the financial industry. As with all start-ups, success is far from assured and so I would encourage you to investigate it for yourself at www.fairlife.org.uk and spread the word. Not only would it be great to see it grow in the UK, I would love to see it go global.