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A multifaceted year

So you made it then. 2004 was a tough year but not as nasty as 2003.

Regulation of mortgages, depolarisation and disclosure continued to distract and it cost a lot more as IFAs continued to pay through the nose for the compensation scheme although PI prices eased.

The big players continued manoeuvring to win the distribution race in mortgage broking, multi-ties and independent advice. The stockmarket did better than expected and the housing market cooled down.

There was no housing crash, no bear market in equities, no Equitable Life and no significant scandals to emerge although old ones rumbled on.

Some IFAs struggled to make ends meet, there were some high-profile failures and many advisers rued their choice of network.

There were rescues too while many IFAs quietly continued to make money.For the big organisations, all eyes are on the burn rates.

Paul Smee has moved, taking the thanks of many IFAs, while former regulator David Severn must negotiate a difficult year as Aifa chief, hopefully complemented by the leadership of the new Personal Finance Society.

The regulator continues to profess all manner of good intentions but can still hurt many advice businesses. IFAs were angry but unsurprised when it suggested that “inefficient” firms may fail due to the depolarisation plans.

As for the Government, the mortgage market is strong enough to shake off the interference but savings policies continue on the same disastrous course. There is even more need for good advice than a year ago. For the sake of your clients,we hope that you all make it to the end of the 2005 and maybe make a little bit of money in the process.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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