The year 2000 will prove to be the one when almost everything changed.
Just about any provider that could merge, sell up or demutualise did so.
It saw the creation of the country's number one life and pensions office, known as Norwich Union, the number two fund manager in Invesco/Perpetual and the number one network stable in Misys.
Bradford & Bingley took over Charcol, demutualised and pursued an advice-led strategy. But Standard saw off the baggers.
Commission battles raged as everyone struggled for a share of a decreasing pie, while several of the industry's more popular figures departed though no company admitted to “sacking” anyone.
The Labour Party's brewing resentment over the pension review finally took shape with the axing of polarisation. Ministers also stubbornly refused to increase the margins on stakeholder despite plucking this unworkable number out of thin air.
The FSA failed its first big test abysmally with the closure to new business of Equitable while with the panic depolar isation of stakeholder pensions it proved to be the Government's lackey.
Most importantly, IFAs held their own in business terms although there will surely be lucrative offers to multi-tie along with the Christmas cards
. Given the hostile regulatory and business climate, we would not blame any readers who tie. But we stick to the belief that the best way to offer best advice and thus to market an inter mediary business is as an independent.
Finally, for our readers we have two fest ive season messages. Don't let the buggers get you down and Merry Christmas.