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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's markets watchdog said it will review how insurers are treating customers that have bought "with-profits" policies that contain guaranteed returns.
In a with-profits policy, the insurers' costs are deducted from the investment profits of the fund and the remainder is returned to investors.
The policies typically have guarantees and are no longer offered widely by insurers.
The Financial Conduct Authority said the last full review that focused on with-profits business was in 2010.
"The forthcoming review into the fair treatment of with-profits customers will allow us to understand further the range of practices that are now being adopted by firms," the FCA said in a statement on Friday.
One practice in particular that is likely to be a focus is so-called "smoothing", which aims to even out the ups and downs of markets. The inclusion of guarantees will also be looked at.
The announcement of a review may raise expectations that potential enforcement action or changes in practices will follow.
"We do not have pre-determined views about whether any particular practices are unfair or are leading to unfair outcomes and have not drawn any conclusions about whether with-profits customers are being unfairly treated."
The 2010 review found that the majority of firms "did not satisfactorily demonstrate" that their practices were consistent with well-run with-profits businesses in one or more areas assessed.
Reporting by Huw Jones and Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Toby Davis