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&#39Bill poses no threat to professional IFAs&#39

Andrew Tyrie and Howard Flight&#39s scaremongering over the Financial

Services and Markets Bill, which their party has supported in principle,

does them no credit and the industry no service.

IFAs are only too aware of the importance of public confidence in them,

their industry and the services it provides. That confidence has come under

great pressure in recent years through pension misselling, concerns about

endowment policies and mortgage advice and even bank charges and closures

which reflect on the wider perception of financial services.

It may not always be fair to put the blame for those difficulties on IFAs

but there is a real public perception that the industry does not treat

customers fairly. False or not, that perception will only be addressed

effectively by all sectors of the industry, including IFAs, recognising the

clear benefits that modern, accountable regulation will bring and extolling

their virtue and consumer value.

Most forward-looking industry representatives recognise this and respond

to it. A negative, grudging response will frustrate the process. Regaining

public confidence in a competitive, open market in financial services,

appropriately regulated to safeguard both consumers and industry

professionals, is essential to the future success of the industry.

The bill provides the structure and means to achieve that – better

informed and empowered consumers doing business with an industry that is

accountable when necessary but not unduly burdened by unjustified

regulation.

The industry has protection through the new, separate and independent

tribunal under the courts services which will rehear any disciplinary case

where the FSA and an authorised firm or individual disagree. The FSA will

be a more accountable and cost-effective regulator than its predecessors

and it will be required to consult and listen to the views of

practitioners. That is good news for IFAs.

So, on balance, protection where necessary, a light touch where possible.

That benefits both consumers and industry. It is a positive opportunity for

the industry to develop and grow, for sound, well managed businesses to

thrive in a reputable well regulated environment. The bill provides no

threat to responsible, professional IFAs prepared to accept the challenge

and regain the initiative.

I am pleased to see that much of the industry does not share the negative,

alarmist view reported. The bill is a major step forward for the industry.

It is too important to be treated as a political football, doing so risks a

real own goal for the industry.

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