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What the Dickens? Our take on A Christmas Carol
by Alex Steger on Dec 12, 2012 at 13:16
Christmas is nearly upon us, which means the RDR is also looming. We thought we’d take a look at the RDR through some Christmas-tinted spectacles, and have turned to the works of Charles Dickens for some help. So here it is, New Model Adviser®’s version of A Christmas Carol. Enjoy!
Martin Wheatley as Ebenezer Scrooge
The curmudgeonly Financial Services Authority (FSA) has hardly been sharing festive cheer with advisers over the past few years. With the retail distribution review (RDR) coming a week after Christmas Day, FSA managing director Martin Wheatley might be spreading the goodwill even thinner in 2013. Bah! Humbug!
Nick Bamford as Bob Cratchit
Like Scrooge’s long-suffering employee, the IFA community has been forced to live on the mealiest of margins as it pays to alter its business for the RDR and gives what little profit is left to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Informed Choice chief executive Nick Bamford has been one of the highest profile protestors against increasing FSCS levies.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
In the bad old days when commission ruled, sales skills, golf days and long lunches were the order of the day. While the Old Boys’ Club may have served providers well, clients lost trust, and advisers are still haunted by the FSCS bills, increasingly expensive professional indemnity insurance, and a planned Arch Cru redress scheme.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Advice is currently at a crossroads with the RDR about to come in, headed by FSA director of policy Sheila Nicoll. While it seems a force for good, there are still question marks over the advice gap it may cause.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
In the utopian future new model advisers are heading for, every business charges fees, is transparent, uses wraps and, of course, serves great coffee. FP Advance chief executive Brett Davidson would be proud.
Pity the poor savings culture, crippled by low interest rates, slow growth and constant changes to the pensions regime. Cures may be available, but all it gets are stakeholder-shaped sticking plasters and the stillborn promise of simple products.
Margaret Cole as Belle
Former FSA managing director Margaret Cole was once the apple of the regulator’s eye. Much beloved in Canary Wharf, she was tipped to take over new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority but was jilted in favour of Martin Wheatley.
Otto Thoresen as Jacob Marley
Providers’ close ties to the FSA, or Scrooge (bear with us), are not what they used to be. The regulator is limbering up for product intervention, while the government is becoming increasingly angry about pension charges.
Chris Hannant as Fred
Like Scrooge’s benevolent nephew, the Association of Professional Financial Advisers (Apfa) has offered many an olive branch to the FSA in the hope of securing a less capricious regulator. Despite numerous snubs over long-stops and the RDR, Apfa plugged away again this year, even if it did not get the results it wanted.