The ongoing saga of the pensions mis-selling scandal has moved onto
a new chapter this week with the appointment of Ludgate Public Affairs
by the Financial Services Authority.
As a central plank of the second stage of the pensions mis-selling
review, Ludgate has been brought in to provide PR support for a planned
direct mailing to 1.8 million people which will alert potential victims
of mis-selling to the steps they need to take to obtain compensation.
The agency will also help the pensions industry prepare and handle
relations with Parliament and bodies such as the Citizen’s Advice
This move onto the offensive marks an important shift in the management
of this public relations debacle.
To date PR activity on the part of those companies ’named and shamed’ by
the former economic secretary for the Treasury Helen Liddell, has mainly
The media has had a field day and seized at every opportunity to sling
mud at some of the giants of the financial services sector, who have in
turn all too often resorted to cheap shots at each other in an attempt
to deflect attention from the misdemeanours of their staff in the late
1980s and early 1990s.
As a result, the overall coverage of the issue to date has been marked
by a dangerous lack of clarity, which has in turn resulted in a
disappointing response to previous calls for potential victims to come
forward. The failure to fully explain the intricacies of the issue to
the man or woman on the street has then been interpreted by the media as
the inevitable response of companies seeking to limit expensive
The presentation of a united front by the industry under the auspices of
the FSA, and the move to a more proactive stance can only be good news
for the reputation of the financial services industry as a whole and the
Also welcome is the decision to mount a well co-ordinated integrated
marketing campaign. When it comes to running an educational campaign,
the generation of well balanced editorial explaining fully the issue,
and the offer of compensation now being made, will provide the best
The task that now lies ahead for the FSA and its agency Ludgate is to
clarify the situation to a ’lay’ audience, creating a channel of
communication between those companies involved in the pensions
mis-selling scandal and its victims. Thereby authenticating their claims
to be actively seeking to compensate those damaged by the scandal, and
providing a solid platform from which the companies involved can
effectively rebuild trust in their brands.