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FSA’s Percival: IFAs should worry about clients ahead of regulator

by Michelle Abrego on Nov 14, 2012 at 10:04

FSA’s Percival: IFAs should worry about clients ahead of regulator

The Financial Services Authority's (FSA) Rory Percival has told advisers to put clients’ needs ahead of undertaking actions to appease the regulator.

Percival, FSA technical specialist, told New Model Adviser® if advisers focussed on treating customers fairly then compliance would follow naturally.

He said he was concerned, from talking to firms, that advisers were undertaking actions, such as using multiple platforms or building centralised investment propositions, just to prove that they had gone through the appropriate motions to the FSA.

'A lot of what advisers do, the focus is around "what do we have to do to make the FSA happy? What steps do we have to undertake? Can I have a checklist of things we have to go through?”

'I can understand why firms go there but I think the concern is they get more focused on what they think we [the FSA] want and often get that wrong, rather than focusing on treating customers fairly.'

He said that he had seen one adviser that went through the process of restructuring a platform proposition, for the sake of compliance, but in the end it did not resemble something that was appropriate for his firm or clients.

In ensuring compliance, Percival said that advisers should take four steps: 'do the thinking, make sure it’s robust, write it down and check it works'.

'They [advisers] need to be doing the right thing for their business and their clients and by default we should be happy with it,' he said.

52 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Mad Eyes

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:32

..blue touch paper lit again!

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martyn edwards

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:35

Brings back to mind another comment made by one of the bright sparks of the FSA " Be afraid be very afraid"

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Michael Brown

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:35

And when we do, they then look in hindsight and say "you should have known/done this or that and you are guilty" Keydata, Arch Dru etc, etc ,etc

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Susan Hill

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:36

Well said Rory. If advisers and businesses focused on the client and put the client at the heart of advise then good advice and process would naturally follow. As an industry we should put ethics and a strong sense of duty to clients as our core beliefs and actions, all else follows in line.

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Paul Davis

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:37

If the FSA actually knew what they wanted in the first place and were able to define their understanding and implementation we would all be doing it right rather than the FSA making up their guidelines as they go and shifting the goalposts to suit their own ends and justify their existence.

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Hugh Jons

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:38

Oh dear, what a stupid thing to say

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Richard Williams

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:38

That's all very well, but clients don't give us our licence to trade, and the mixed messages from the Regulator re. single and/or multiple platform use over the last year has forced us to prioritise getting a compliant offering moving forward.

The time spent with clients has diminished withthe ever increasing regulatory burden.

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Phil Bill

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:38

I'm sorry to say this, but he is right again. The 4 step process he outlines is a useful checklist, but it will also be worth looking at the 'Five Proofs' concept developed by FinaMetrica. Paul Resnik is in the UK now if you want to follow up with him.

And no, I'm not on commission.....

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Bob Donaldson

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:39

Yes it is OK stating that but you also have to ensure that you adhere to the million and one regulations that they set and now even more with the new Gabriel Return.

Clients appreciate the time you spend with them guiding them talking to them about what is happening in the economy with their investments etc and what they should be doing or considering.

However, I have to jump through numerous hoops just to ensure that the regulator does not come down on me like a ton of bricks.

Secondly the regulator keeps moving the rules. One minute they are not happy with this then it is something else in addition to which the financial planning rules consistently change with taxation changes.

What is it now one advisor with three admin staff and the number of advisors reducing by the hour!

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David Craik

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:45

Mr Percival, we don't trust you. We don't believe a word you or your colleagues say. Until the FSA starts being honest about it's own failings and shares some of the blame, you will not be able to start to earn our trust. Stop covering up your repeated failings. Take some responsibility! Engage and then listen. It is clear that very few of you have any relevant advisory experience. If you go to consultation then take some heed of the responses.

No doubt many more, like me, constanly ask themselves - Why bother?

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Dandy lion

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:47

I think this again underlines the regulators efforts to focus on "outcome" based regulations as opposed to box ticking. The problem the fsa has is with its credibility because on the one hand, it says its all about TCF and outcomes then the. "regulate" product providers like keydata, arch etc and blame the "outcome" on advisers.

Outcome based regulations is as much about supplying none damaged goods to the shop as well as expecting the shopkeeper to sell it ethically.

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Nov 14, 2012 at 11:05

This is what happens when you operate a regulatory system based on fear and mistrust!!

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Nov 14, 2012 at 11:06

Nice try Mr Percival, but your fine words, which every IFA with a sound mind agrees with, are not backed up by your outfits actions.

Your four steps are the issue. 'do the thinking, make sure it’s robust, write it down and check it works'.

What is really needed is two steps. Do the thinking and tell the customer what you think. It's the robust issue and checking it works that gives us the problem.

This is not to say I believe you can advise an elderly widow to put her life savings into growth UCIS when she requires stable low risk income.

Write it down rule now means 20 page reasons why letters that are a defence document, showing the regulator you are compliant. What the regulator misses is a client requires a simple letter stating 'this is what I think you should do' in no more than 2 pages. Then they probably don't read it!

But the rules forbid this as advice is now forensically examined down to the n'th degree, focusing on areas with the smaller client benefits, taxation warnings, choice of platforms, that have marginal customer benefits. However the regulator is in danger of ignoring the actual investment itself. If this is reasonable for the client both in terms of risk and timescale, most of the rest is just paperwork for the sake of the FSA showing the outside world just how great they are in keeping the advisory industry in check. But the conmen and dishonest still thrive.

When a stockbroker recommends an investment, he tells the client, then writes, in bullet point form, notes on his/her client file, why they are recommended. This takes only a few moments. Only when recommending pensions, or investment based protection doesa full RYL need to be sent.

Why can't all advice be delivered this way? We take ages doing a letter, mainly to ensure all FSA rules are being obeyed, but it does not alter what was advised unless in a minor way.

We need to stop the conmen, the greedy and the criminal first. then we will do the right thing for our businesses and clients, and we will be happy with it, Mr Percival.

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Jonathan Kirby

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:23

I agree with Hickky.

Suitability reports are all about defence against complaints and very little to do with client need.

So will Mr Percival let me do letters that I think are suitable for each individual client?

On many occasions clients tell me that they don't want me to write big long letters as they trust my judgement to do what is right for them.

I have to tell them that whilst we would encourage them to read what we have sent, we can't force them, but that the letter is required to prove that we have been compliant.

If they don't want all this information why should they have to pay for it?

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Nov 14, 2012 at 11:25

Luddism ....the craiks are beggining to show.....

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Comply or Die

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:28

People can question or challenge the FSA as this and other online sites regularly do! Nevertheless, experience has shown me that Rory Percival is very much on the 'front foot' for giving extremely sensible and informed advice on mitigating the risks to regulated firms.

This information helps firms deliver what a client requires from a quality adviser.

It also shows a much greater alignment of interests for the longer term of all stakeholders along the value chain.

You may not recognise this, but listening to his tips are a very good idea! He is a messenger that should not be shot at, he has the interests of the whole FS community at heart, in particular those with greater ethics and integrity. He does not start from "be very afraid" approach but adopts the mantra that good compliance is common sense. If only other FSA people were so informative and open in their interactions. He does engage and listen . . . which is what we can all benefit from

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Nov 14, 2012 at 11:38

@ Dante

Craik or Craic?

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Nov 14, 2012 at 11:40

I think the above article is spot on, finally some common sense among madness!

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Regulatory novice

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:44

Sadly, I think that is an admission of failure. The regular has failed to achieve the outcome it was seeking because we (all?) live in fear of the regulator.

Could you imagine if our GPs took a similar approach to the FSA and you got forty lashes for admitting to eating a bacon sandwich after finding out you had raised cholesterol levels?

I often think "why bother?" when the real rogues just carry on regardless.....

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Paul Harding

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:54

Hicky and J Kirby are correct.

Now that ALL advisers are qualified to a level the regulator is satisfied with, why can’t we be allowed to operate more like e.g. a GP - in 15 mins they fact find and dispense recommendations on your health (arguably far more important than your wealth!) without the need to write 20 pages (they prob spend 2 mins of notes on your records) or the need to audit why one drug over another, or how they arrived at their conclusions, or lots of caveat riddled pages about possible side effects etc. The regulatory dividend from RDR (which would benefit CLIENTS by the way!) appears to be nonexistent.

If Rory (who seems to offer hope for a different future regulator/adviser relationship by the way) means what he says then there is a GREAT opportunity for INSTANT improvement here - let the regulator write into their (and FSCS, FOS etc) handbook, that as long as the solution provided is suitable for the client then that’s the end of it – and HOW you arrived at or documented it is up to the adviser to determine - only the most foolish would risk having NO audit (i.e. being able to evidence that its suitable), but at least give us the right to back our judgement in terms of the balance to achieve and to deliver a far more speedy and compact and LOWER COST advice to clients.

Also, re widening consumre access to advice, why not introduce a "simple" advice category, perhaps defined as a stand-alone event with advice fees/earnings below £250/£500 ish?, where a much simpler (perhaps verbal only with notes approach?) could apply; it might not be where many of us want to practice, but at least it would widen client choice and we might choose to deliver it every now and then when the client circumstances dictate?

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Nov 14, 2012 at 12:03

The problem is for the good and trust worthy the regulator is an out of control beast that adds a huge cost to clients due to the time it takes to complete the requirements. However, the crooks are still around and to combat those the regulation is ever increased. Whislt kicking out the bad guys is good the cost benefit does have to work. The one thing we advisers require to prevent many of the issues is to regulate the products. But as this seems too hard to do / would leave the blame on the regulator its always rejected for the preference of the liability falling on the adviser for things that are really not within his control. eg Arch Cru stolen funds.

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sol trader

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:37

This is what we used to do before we had a regulator

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john stratton

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:48

The whole industry is built on fear!!

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Comply or Die

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:08

@Paul Harding

Are you really comparing the qualifications and ability of a GP to an average IFA adviser?

Most GPs that I have seen can spend 15 minutes to analyse, diagnose and write down recommendations. This is based on much greater training than a typical QCA Level 4 qualified adviser.

I know who I would want my family health assessment to be undertaken by - not someone is only qualified to the level of a first year degree course (when e.g. compared to a Doctor who has done 5 years training at medical school, then spent further training to become consultant or GP.) They also tend to specialise where can keep up more developed focus CPD to demonstrate expertise.

Yes I do respect those genuine Wealth Managers put the amateur "wealth architects" have about as much ability to manage and choice investments as a Sunday village footballer does to play for a Premier League team. I accept one cannot lump all adviser together, those who are qualified to Level 7 Chartered Financial Planners have much greater expertise. But, I cannot see how a Level 4 (minimum level) can be compared to a medical professional.

I also appreciate that examinations are not everything but the attainment of Level 4 is not that a high a barrier. I am sure the FSA would not choose from scratch Level 4 as the minimum entry level. All RIs should aspire to much higher and specialist qualifications.

We can all joke about Doctors writing of prescriptions, but I suspect the written diagnose and recommendations of the medical profession is much more salient and concise when compared to the average suitability report. GP has to be a generalist across a wider area and if in doubt will make a referral to a specialist.

One could be controversial and ask whether the rational for this prognosis, more reflects the training a Doctor gains at medical school, or because the average qualified Doctor is much brighter and has better demonstrable academic qualifications and education background than a typical IFA. This has a consequential impact on the expertise shown, when they deliver a written judgement and leads on average to much better quality client / patient assessment. They are both tested with the benefit of hindsight by the BMA or FSA.

My personal experience of the quality of the evidence of decisions from working across financial planning, fund and wealth management is that the better quality recording reflects the intelligence and training of the writer.

The test that I try to apply is from any report can a reasonable person understand the facts of the case and / or recommendation based on reading the report. Then if I picked up the whole file can a reasonable person, see the evidence linked to the report and recommendation. More often than not, this is not possible which is why most FSA thematic reports question both the suitability assessment and more often the quality of the record keeping.

Length does not make the report or evidence better. This could have been made more concise!?

A good regulator will regulate products and regulate advice. Many adviser don't understand the products they are advising on and if they don't how will their typical client understand them. Many advisers sell based on the size of the commission rather the understanding of the product or client need e.g. look at UCIS (unregulated schemes) sales to ineligible customers.

I am sure Paul, Rich etc would not want his daughter or mother to receive treatment for breast cancer or cosmetic reconstruction from someone who did not understand the risks of the assessment going wrong.

As for selling of Arch Cru or UCIS - I suspect if you ask Rory Percival - he would be able to say that those firm who actually considered the risks of these products, took time to understood and complete due diligence and considered the needs of the firm's customers have not had significant enforcement challenges. Those who did not understand [or, want to follow advice given (even after initial FSA finding were published)] only have themselves to blame - they have rushed to maximise sales commissions and hope the sales were worth it!

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Nov 14, 2012 at 13:11

I have just read a report from the FSA regarding Ashcourt Rowan. It claims that it could not assertain if the advice given was suitable or not on 23 cases, thus meaning there was a high risk of unsuitability. For this they were fined £412,000.

Well, FSA, have you interviewed the clients in question to see if the recommended investments were actually unsuitable, or, as I suspect, was it the paperwork that was not completed satisfactorily, so what was in the reasons why letter was repeated in the factfind. If the actual recommendations were reasonable, the clients are happy with the advice given, whats the issue?

Whilst I have no love for AR, this paperwork trail is actually meaningless. Whilst we produce a wonderful legal defence document, it has no real stature. If the FOS believe a client's story with no facts to back up their case, whilst the adviser has mountains of paperwork to 'prove' his case, it matters not.

Why cant the FSA review paperwork only if a complaint has been made, and it is unclear if the appropriate advice had been given?

If it was totally unsuitable, fine the company and fine or jail the adviser, makes sense to me.

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Paul Harding

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:20

@comply or die

Of course thats true. I didnt suggest they had comparable qualifications - I said "operate like".

One of the points I was (clearly poorly!) looking to make is that what matters is GETTING IT RIGHT, not writing about it ad nauseam.

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Nov 14, 2012 at 13:22

Paul Harding- bad analogy using GPs. You clearly have not seen their PI premiums nor seen the processes they use . Anything complicated referred to a specialist consultant ( who has much more than a level 4)

Now if you were saying " I'm a GP, I make up my own potions( portfolios) and will not only diagnose , but also prescribe and manufacture the cure"....then that's far more akin to the issues caused by IFAs who claim to out-think the market.

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Nov 14, 2012 at 13:26

@ Comply or Die

Although I understand that a medical Doctor if far more highly trained than us mere IFAs, their advice, like us is regulated by the various NICE edicts.

No longer can a GP say 'I think you have X, and I will refer you to a specialist now as delay could worsten your health'

No, the doctor must have tests or scans done, the proscriptive edicts then give the order you MUST take. i.e. all evidence must be obtained for file, even if it confirms your diagnosis. Then the consultant must go down an approved pathway, regardless of his diagnostic skill, to see if there is a cheaper way of fobbing the patient off before his real skill and specialism is used by the NHS.

If the GP or Consultant veers off these proscribed pathways, he will run the risk of being struck off.

Sounds familiar?

So next time you go to your GP for a guestimate of why you are unwell, and are given the pills in the hope they work, just remember that certain treatments are not permitted, the drug companies lobby NICE all the time, and NHS costs are out of control. Also Doctors are leaving as they are so fed up with being told what to prescribe, regardless of their training and knowledge. Mind you, their pensions allow them to make this choice!

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Mad Eyes

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:29

@Comply or die

I have worked with very many honest, trustworthy advisers with a breadth of knowledge way beyond QCF level exams, (which are in many ways are a memory test) who have really struggled with exams, regulatory changes, networks going bump on them etc. I suspect many 50-60 year old GPs would struggle to pass their degrees if they had to go back to Uni today.

Personally I always ask to to see one of the grey haired GPs when i am ill, not some kid fresh out of Med School, clever and qualified as they may be.

Qualifications are not everything

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Philip Wise

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:33

There are two FSAs that I know of.

There's the one I read about in the press and bulletins from compliance consultants, which fines people, makes scary pronouncements, and is a bit worse than the gestapo.

There's the other one that puts on the best industry seminars I attend, provides helpful answers to questions about RDR via its email service and call centre, and offers clear information on its website. This FSA has kept its promises about not being interested in us if we answer its questions, complete its returns and dont do much high risk business. I had a nice chat with that FSA about TCF a couple of years ago, but havent had any real contact with them otherwise.

The shrill claims of the press and compliance consultants are beginning to wear a bit thin, but there's a part of me that jusr cant ignore them.

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Paul Harding

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:37

The point of the (bad!) analogy was not to in any way imply that IFAs are comparable with GPs, surgeons, etc in terms of qualifications or expertise. It was simply to make the point (following Rorys quote in the article) that GPs manage to solve simple problems quickly and cost effectively despite operating in a far more complex world, so why cant our system of advice have a similar outcome. In both worlds, the more complex it gets, the more time, audit, expertise etc should be brought to bear. But when its simple, let us do it simply, and as long as its RIGHT for the client let that be the test, nothing else. IF the regulator would confirm that then I think it could transform the way we work and the access to advice (and cost of it) for clients

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Nov 14, 2012 at 13:44

@Mad Eyes; Your knowledge is clearly not matched by your ability to patronise .

Some" Kid" will often bring the very latest understanding and is,anyway, not able to run his/her own list until very competent...

The grey haired GPs are tested to keep knowledge fresh.

Old IFAs who get away with "trust me I have been calling the market for 50 years"...on the other hand

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Philip Melville

Nov 14, 2012 at 13:53

GP's - arrogance beyond belief !!!!!

You fill in a few forms to keep your bum covered in case the product fails and you think this compares you with a GP - of any bloody age !!!!

Poor old Rory, if he only knew .

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Nov 14, 2012 at 14:09

One swallow does not make a summer.

If this is to have any meaning whatsoever there must be confirmation that this is the approach adopted across the FSA, including when carrying out themed visits, investigations and taking enforcement action.

Unfortunately, I suspect that recent the experience of firms on these matters (particularly themed visits) does not wholly concord with Mr Percival's take on the matter.

I remian to be persuaded on the wisdom of being the first compliance officer to run the "Rory said" defence...

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Colum Wilde ( MD , Clever Adviser )

Nov 14, 2012 at 14:51

I fully agree with 'Comply or Die'. Having heard Rory Percival on a number of occasions, it is patently obvious that this man talks sense and if practitioners

took notice of his comments then they would be more likely to implement and adopt a 'visible, repeatable and profitable' service as outlined in FSA RDR factsheets 06/2009.

Furthermore, they would then be less likely to fall into the trap of implementing a service that could result in ' operation successful, patient dead!'

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Martin Powell

Nov 14, 2012 at 14:52

Paul Harding, you are absolutely right about your health being more important about your wealth. Some doctors don't even bother to fact find as I know from personal experience.

About 3 years ago I went to the doctor because I thought I was suffering from a chest infection. He examined me and prescribed antibiotics but also said that he wanted to take my blood pressure. Having done this he told me that I had high blood pressure. He then asked me to book an appointment with the practice nurse so she could run some blood tests and also asked me to provide a urine sample on my next visit. He also asked me to come back and see him in 1 month's time.

When I saw the doctor again he told me the results of my blood and urine tests, my blood sugar was normal, there was no problem with my urine sample and my cholesterol was within what the medical profession call normal limits. Reason to celebrate you would think.

Not so. He took my blood pressure again and told me the readings. It had come down 10 points for one of the readings and 2 points for the other but he was still insisting that my blood pressure was high. He then said, normally we would take 3 separate readings for blood pressure but in his experience it was unlikely that my blood pressure would correct itself any further than today's reading.

I then asked him what caused high blood pressure and guess what his answer was - I don't know! That really inspired me with confidence. He then went on to say I can prescribe some anti-hypertensive drugs to lower your blood pressure and statins to reduce your cholesterol levels. We can start the medication today if you want to or do you want to have a think about it and come back in a month's time.

Probably most people at this stage would have accepted his prescription but something clicked in my mind. I'll think about it I told him.

As I drove home I thought to myself, this guy wants to prescribe me with very potent drugs but he doesn't really know much about me. This is where his fact finding was very poor. At no stage had he asked me about my lifestyle such as do you eat healthily, do you exercise, what sort of job do you do? At the same time all my tests were fine yet he wanted to prescribe a statin to lower my cholesterol levels even though they were within normal limits and prescribe an anti-hypertensive drug even though he didn't know what caused high blood pressure.

Had he bothered to ask me about my lifestyle he would have found out that I do follow what I call a healthy diet, I exercise 3-4 times per week, and I have worked in financial services for over 30 years. In addition this was the first time I had visited my GPs surgery in over 8 years.

I decided to purchase my own blood pressure monitor and take my own readings at home. I did this 3 times a day, morning, noon and evening.

Guess what I found, all my readings were 120/80 which is the optimum level for blood pressure or even below this on some occasions.

When I went back to the doctor's I took a month of readings with me and told them that I had purchased my own blood pressure monitor. This time I saw another doctor and he said that my reading was 150/90. I've just taken my blood pressure 15 minutes ago and it was 118/79 I told him.

There must be something wrong with your blood pressure monitor he said. I don't think so I told him, the monitor is brand new and it has been clinically validated by the British Hypertension Society. No there must be something wrong with it he said. Come back in a month's time and we'll check your BP again.

I continued to take my own readings at home with great results and went back to the doctor's surgery for 3 months running with them still protesting that there was something wrong with my BP monitor. I told them that I had borrowed my friend's BP monitor for the last 7 days and I was still getting the same readings as my own BP monitor. This was met with a stony silence by the doctor who had first told me that I had got high blood pressure.

There's only one way to get to the bottom of this he said. I"ll organise for the local hospital to fit you with an ambulatory BP monitor that will take your blood pressure every 30 minutes over a 24 hour period so we can really see what's going on.

I had the ambulatory BP monitor fitted and went back to the GP'S surgery to get my results about 2 weeks later. The results from the 24 hour testing showed an average BP of 120/80 over the 24 hour period. It also said that the reason why my blood pressure was higher when I went to the doctor's surgery was because I suffered from white coat hypertension. The doctor who had fitted my 24 hour ambulatory BP monitor had noted that my BP was 145/90 at the start of the 24 hour period. They said in the report that I was the type of person whose blood pressure was always likely to be higher in a clinical environment such as GPs surgery, hospital, or dentist's surgery because I suffered from white coat syndrome.

The GP said it looks like that you have got nothing to worry about. I just left the surgery somewhat relieved that my so called problem had been sorted.

A few days later whilst working out at the gym I happened to get talking to a chap who turned out to be an ex drug company representative. I told him about my experience with my GP and he said that it didn't surprise him because at least 80% of the doctor's he used to visit, he considered to be incompetent. He said that white coat hypertension should be one of the things every doctor should know about and they should always take this into account before prescribing any blood pressure medication to a new patient

He said that the reason he left the pharmaceutical industry was that there was too much of a cosy relationship between GPs and the drug companies. It worked on the basis of rewarding GPs for recommending certain drugs so that there was profit in it for both parties. Sounds a little bit like product providers paying enhanced commission for financial advisers to recommend their products.

When the FSA have finished decimating IFAs maybe the staff that are no longer required should go and look at cleaning up the medical profession and drug companies. If you take it to it's logical conclusion, misdiagnosing is the same as misselling and is it being done in the name of profit or do we just have a lot of incompetent doctors in the UK and someone has finally realised that even doctors need to sit an annual competence test.

How many of your clients, parents, or anyone of you reading this blog is on high blood pressure medication or statins? Most over 50s are quite likely to be on medication.

How many actually need to be taking these forms of medication and how many doctors are trying to reduce their patients medication by alternative medicine or a change in lifestyle? Not many I would assume.

It might seem cynical but why would you want to do this. All blood pressure medication does is control a problem - it never cures it. The drug companies aren't bothered about it being cured as it means less profit for them and you could argue that doctors have a vested interested as patients have to go back for regular reviews for medications to be checked to see if the same doseage is required. All sounds like recurring income or revenue to me.

The moral of this story is that if financial advisers can damage your wealth then doctors can certainly damage your health. Which is more important?

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Nov 14, 2012 at 15:17

Oh god..what have we done...it's turning into a medical problem page and to make things worse you quote the opinions of an ex drug company rep! .....

Martin,bless you, this is an FS blog and whilst medical history is being made with various bloggers talking out of their ****** , you will significantly increase the number of "lost will to live" patients in doctors waiting rooms .

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Nov 14, 2012 at 15:18

@ Martin

Great story, well told.

Did you know that your GP practice was, and probably still is, targeted to find persons with hypertension and cholestorol over 5.

The more patients showing these symptoms, the more money they recieve. To ratify the numbers, a GP has to prescribe HBP pills or Statins so the percentages can be proven.

The searching for people with these symptoms is part of NICE guidelines on public health, the additional payments a reward for having sicker patients on practice lists.

HBP medication and Statins use has trebled in the last few years. Does this mean people are becoming less healthy? Older? More aware of their own bodies? I don't know.

Mind you GPs income has increased dramatically over the past few years.

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Nov 14, 2012 at 15:20

@ Dante

No smoke without fire!

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Michael Brown

Nov 14, 2012 at 16:08


He prescribed drugs as for each drug prescribed he gets paid extra!!

Now why can we not do the same?

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Philip Melville

Nov 14, 2012 at 16:20

@ Phil Wise,

Hope you are well !

I have to say that I agree completely with you and wonder sometimes whether we are in different business to many of those who comment in our media..

We have always managed to have a good working relationship with regulators from Nasdim onwards even though on occasion a referee would have Red Carded me for the language I have used in conversation with them.

When people debate a regulators talk about putting clients first you do have to wonder.

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Will Watling (Capita Financial Software)

Nov 14, 2012 at 17:05

When a client receives better value for money on or off platform, the adviser always earns more adviser charges in cash terms IF the ACs are described as % of FUM. You can earn 20% more easily just by getting this right, the client's better off & 'client detriment' is avoided. Why do so many advisers want to earn less & don't understand this? Happy to do any examples anyone wants me to.

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Michael Both

Nov 14, 2012 at 18:07

@ Philip Wise,

Is the other, "good FSA", the Food Standards Agency?

The last time I went to a Financial Services Authority event it was run by goons who clearly loved the fear and hatred they engendered in the room and could not have cared less about working with the 150+ IFAs they had corralled.

The one before was slightly better and the one before that a total waste of time.

When the FSA confirms in writing that they will not retrospectively change the rules and not demand levels of documentation which are completely beyond what the customer might reasonably want to pay for we can start writing short, pithy and pertinent RWLs again like we used to do 25 years ago.

Until then its 80 pages and upwards of legalistic backside covering waffle covering every eventuality from future banking crises to the reappearance of dinosaurs.

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Nov 14, 2012 at 18:33

Michael Both- Reappearance of dinosaur!

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Mad Eyes

Nov 14, 2012 at 22:29


Oh yes I'm fully diploma qualified in Patronising. Plus gap fill all done too!!

Fortunately i'm Chartered in the day job too, so reasonably well positioned to add my opinion

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Nov 15, 2012 at 09:33

Mad Eyes; As you said "Qualifications are not everything"

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Mad Eyes

Nov 15, 2012 at 09:43



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Insiders Comment

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:06

If you cross the street Mr Client there is a risk that you may be hit by a car, a bus, a cyclist, or even suffer a mild heart attack putting you in danger of any of the aforementioned risks. Other people have crossed the road successfully but there is no guarantee that you will as past experience is no guide to the future and you might be run over and killed. Please consider these risks before crossing the road as failure to do so could lead to a disaster that I had not bought to your attention. Also, once you have read these risk warnings I am immune from any claims your family might make against me following your unfortunated demise. Now that we have cleared that up can we talk about your investments I have bought 5 reams of paper upon which I will type my recommendations and explain the risk warnings. This is primarily to ensure my Regulator is happy that in the event of your capital falling in value you wont be able to sue me for negligence and if you cant be bothered to read 500 pages of risk warnings that is your problem and not mine as I am compliant. Oh and of course all of this additional work and the reglators fees I am paying is now also being charged to you in significantly higher charges as these nice FSA peaople are highly paid for doing a ROBUST job ( to use their language) in protecting you, so consider the extra charge as insurance against my robbing you. Now that is all explained I can perhaps get down to your requirements.....wait dont go I havnt started yet......please come back

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Martin Powell

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:53

Dante, it was never my intention to turn this page into a medical blog. I was just defending Paul Harding as certain people on this blog seemed to berating him for his analogy with GPs. Whatever their level of competence, just because GPs have done hours of training doesn't mean they are incapable of making mistakes.

I could also provide you with real life examples of incompetency in the legal, dental, and accountacy professions that I have encountered over the last 30 years. There are ethical and unethical people in every profession and any number of qualifications or hours of training cannot guarantee their competency or ethics.

Just because people express an opinion on this blog, why do you try to denigrate them by calling them luddites, dinosaurs, patronising, or talking out of their xxxxx.

Do you just assume that they haven't attained a Level 4 qualification or Chartered status otherwise they wouldn't be making critical comments about the FSA?

As you say this is not a medical blog so let us take Philip Wise's comments that 'there are 2 FSAs that I know of'. Actually there's a third which its creator Gordon Brown described as a world class regulator. This is the one that was supposedly responsible for the regulation and supervision of banking but was asleep at the wheel when the credit crunch started in 2007.

I quote from the CII's J06 Investment principles, markets and environment December 2008 edition. 'Responsiblity for banking supervision passed from the Bank of England to the FSA in June 1998. As Northern Rock has shown,it also does not get it right'.

To that you can add RBS, the Halifax and a host of other well known financial names that have been implicated in the motorway pile ups that the FSA have presided over.

This is the world class regulator which was responsible for the stability of the banking system but seemed to put more of its resources into telling small IFAs or small companies how to run their businesses and treat customers fairly yet managed to create a TCF outcome which I would call Treating Consumers Fairly that has dwarfed all the poor TCF outcomes that IFAs were responsible for put together.

To take the comments of Philip Melville 'When people debate a regulators talk about putting clients first you do have to wonder'. I don't think any of the people commenting on this blog wouldn't put their clients first, most of them were expressing a view that the regulator sends out mixed messages. If that appears to be cynical or patronising can you blame them?

I think that most people commenting on this blog are frustrated by the fact that any input they provide to the FSA is just ignored. However because the FSA is accountable to nobody it doesn't matter that they brought this country to its knees and forced hardship on millions of people for the last 5 years and this will probably continue for at least anoher 5. No apology to the millions of consumers whose interests they were supposed to protect. TCF at its best!

Oh, and Dante, just one final comment. I know we don't want to change this page into a medical blog but I am sure all the people who have commented on this blog will be interested in this latest news if they truly value their own health or their loved ones.

You talked about me quoting the opinions of an ex drug company rep. Well guess what his opinions might be right.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has just announced that it will no longer publish the results of clinical trials unless drug companies and researchers agree to provide ALL detailed study on request. (Bit like full disclosure or transparency).

For far too long, big drug firms have buried drug results that didn't show up in a good light. In effect they have covered up drug side effects. They have got away with employing PR firms to re-write study data to put a more positive spin on results. That way they have managed to convince the scientific community that these new drugs are major breakthroughs in curing diseases when in fact, most are next to useless.

As a result it is possible that doctors are prescribing drugs in ignorance and often with dangerous consequences. Although I don't blame doctors entirely here because of the tremendous workload they have and the restrictions imposed on them by the government, doesn't this amount to a lack of due diligence on their part?

If they have been prescribing drugs just because the drug company said it was safe and had been tested maybe that's why our drug company rep thought that so many of them were incompetent. Is that going to be a defence if compensation claims follow?

You can almost liken this to the IFAs who said that they relied on the literature that Arch Cru produced - doctors relying on what the drug companies told them.

Dante somehow I don't think my comments will significantly increase the number of 'lost will to live' patients in doctors waiting rooms, in fact if this information isn't swept under the carpet before it reaches the general public then I think there will be a significant reduction in the number of people visting their GPs.

By the way feel free to visit your GP if you wish, he might give you some anti-depressants but be warned that they may do you more harm than good

Funny how things come back to bite you on the xxxx isn't it?.

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Nov 15, 2012 at 13:06


Nov 16, 2012 at 21:51

I would vote for Rory to replace Martin Wheatley at the earliest opportunity. The end of January would be good enough for me. Rory seems to be one of the few at the FSA who speaks in plain English with any degree of common sense. We all make mistakes and I don't believe the FSA would be overly critical of genuine minor misdemeanors. They are probably looking for serious incompetence and evidence of poor advice on a consistent basis. If we document everything well, it will serve the adviser firm well when the FCA come knocking.

I have worried about the FSA turning up for years so am paranoid about files and research to the degree that even our compliance firm used to say we do too much but they have now adopted the view it is not possible to have too much research or evidence.

The problem Rory has is that others at the regulator do not appear to adopt the same tone and I have personally witnessed this at some of the FSA roadshows and presentations which I have been cordially invited to attend. Some of these individuals cleraly have an agenda that we are all crooks and vagabonds and they are out to get us, come what may.

This type of behaviour and attitude does little to help but neither does some of the behaviour of some advisers so there's blame on both sides.

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David Craik

Nov 19, 2012 at 09:21


Get a grip!

Mr Percival is reported as making a couple of blase common sense statements and all of a sudden he is the next Messiah! If he was any different to the rest of the FSA management he would have owned up to the shocking practices the FSA have been scrambling to cover up. He may be one of the few in Canary Wharf that has ever met a client (possibly) but he is clearly party to the deception.

It will not change as long as they can pull the wool over the eyes of the Industry.

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