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A hard day&#39s knight

The new year is a time for looking forward as well as looking back and for

making resolutions that are well meant but often forgotten. What follows

are my suggestions for a few resolutions, all of which require the consent

of a third party if they are not to fail.

My first resolution concerns consultation papers. Last year, we were given

the benefit of CP119 to CP163, not forgetting occasional papers and

discussion papers, plus leaflets and decision trees for the general public.

With 45 consultation papers in one year – and given that there are fewer

than than 45 working weeks in a year – we were certainly faced with

consultation on a level which could only result in minimal response to many

of these papers.

I fully understand that the FSA is obliged to consult but we could do with

a lot more focus and less tilting at windmills in 2003.

Second – and this is the resolution most likely to fall at the first fence

– I would like to see 2003 declared as a misselling review-free year. Now,

there is something that would test some personal finance journalists.

Third, as a follow on to my second resolution, I would like to see the full

integration of the General Insurance Standards Council, if only for the FSA

to understand that professional indemnity is not some sort of social fund,

as seems to be the current perception.

Although I have already mentioned the number of consultation papers issued

last year, one paper I will heartily welcome is one on professional

indemnity. But when responding, we must avoid the temptation to suggest an

alternative that assumes that everyone who is having problems is worthy of

rescue.

Undoubtedly, 2003 will be a year when the IFA has to put in place some

serious long-term planning. Alongside the introduction of the Sandler

suite, with its lighter touch of compliance, we must ensure that we IFAs

offer a far more valuable service. This means we need to take our clients

with us and not simply assume that they too have gone to sleep reading

consultation papers over the last 12 months.

The general public (our clients) do not have the same level of interest in

the machinations of the regulators or the Government and few understand the

level of compliance which they now need to pay for, given the current

regulatory environment.

I have never been a fan of execution-only as a point of differentiation but

I do feel many clients would be prepared to give up some compliance

measures if they benefited in terms of costs.

We need to explain far better to clients the added value we can bring to

them which is simply not available from all the players in the market.

As IFAs, we should not regard the Sandler approach as something primarily

for the banks as we may find this method of product purchase could

integrate successfully with an advice-only practice.

This is the year for us to take a more lateral approach. We must avoid

always opting to defend the status quo and must initially look at each

proposed change as an opportunity and not as an immediate threat.

My final resolution is that in 2003 we should find ourselves closer to

achieving professional status through real progress in securing a chartered

title for financial advisers.

Let us make 2003 a year of progress and not a year to regret the loss of

opportunity. We must remember to emphasise the difference we can make.

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