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MM leader: Engage with IFAs rather than scoring cheap points

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Last week’s Westminster Hall debate and Treasury select committee hearing suggest there are a significant number of MPs with serious RDR concerns.

The IFA community and MPs deserved better than the response given by Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban during the debate.

The comparison with a McDonald’s diploma in shift work was a deliberately antagonistic political gibe that only moved us further away from the sensible debate that is needed.

Technically, the comparison may be sound but it trivialises a very emotive issue and ignores the specific concerns of many advisers and their MPs.

Few people are suggesting that qualification standards for IFAs do not need to rise. The concern is centred on experienced advisers worried about meeting the new professional requirements by the start of 2013.

The MPs speaking in Parliament were echoing the concerns of many in the industry about the consumer detriment that would be caused if access to advice was further limited. Sadly, this is not a concern that appears to be shared by Hoban or the FSA.

It was also wrong of Hoban to use a selected Which? statistic from 2007, based on a tiny sample which was skewed by the inclusion of tied advisers, as evidence of poor practice in the IFA sector.

If only the Government and regulators would spend more time engaging with IFAs and encouraging higher standards, for example through regulatory incentives, rather than making cheap political points and bullying speeches.

If only policymakers started from a viewpoint that it is in consumers’ interests that as many advisers as possible remain in the industry.

The new regulatory framework needs to encourage more people to seek advice and take responsibility for their own financial affairs. The need for decent advice will only grow but we must ensure there will be enough people around to deliver it.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Some politicians, a committee and their Chairman do engage.

    Contrary to what your supposedly representative bodies say there is a need to provide real examples of how regulation is strangling you and militating your ability to do more for larger numbers of consumers.

    Send us your thoughts, they can be made in confidence so that the regulators can't get back at you or you can be brave and let the politicians publish your feelings.

    Make the most of the increasing pressure being applied to a failed regulatory system, make sure it doesn't continue as it has, or gets no worse.

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  • The comment about qualifications was endorsed by Sheila Nicholl, but since we are not allowed to have her email to respond I will comment here that this is a"pot and kettle" remark, as was Mark Hobans. Neither has qualifications for the job they are doing which is effectively to not only interfere and change legitimate business but they are changing a whole industry for the sake of their ideas without consulting properly either the industry or the consumers which they are pretending to protect. Sheila Nicholl has two modern language degrees according to FSA and Mark Hoban is ACA. Have they any idea how many qualifications are held by IFAS or how much CPD including courses has been undertaken and asessed ? - So what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Let them undertake new relevant qualifications or be removed from their jobs. Can you imagine the furore if this was applied to all professions ?

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