How to pay for advice and distribution in financial services?

The question of commission payments to financial intermediaries has recently come to public attention, as EU policymakers discuss the issue in the context of the Insurance Mediation Directive (IMD2, a new set of rules for the European insurance sector) and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID, which aims to harmonise rules for investment services). What are the economics of commission payments, and what has been the experience of countries where specific regulations have been introduced?

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Pension reforms in the UK: what can be learned from other countries?

Reforms in the UK pensions market announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in the 2014 Budget are set to remove many of the restrictions on what people can do with their defined-contribution (DC) pension funds on retirement. Concerns have been raised about the likely impact of the reforms on the stability of retirement incomes for pensioners. What can comparative research from other countries tell us about the likely effects?

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In a fluid state? Competition policy in the water sector

The Water Act 2014 paves the way for a number of market reforms in the England and Wales water sector. In addition to new sector-specific rules that will accompany these changes, water companies must comply with general competition law. What do recent competition cases in the sector say about the issues that might emerge in future?

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What makes an ‘unfair burden’? Funding social outcomes in competitive markets

National monopolies in Europe once provided services across their countries as a public service, sometimes on a non-commercial basis. However, where these monopolies now face competition, European law allows national authorities to require the costs of some non-commercial services to be shared with industry operators, but only if the costs are an ‘unfair burden’. But what is an unfair burden, and can a burden to provide these services ever be ‘fair’?

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