View more on these topics

ABI: ‘No chance of winning RDR fight’

ABI acting director of life and savings Helen White says the House of Commons’ debate on the RDR is a “desperate last attempt” by IFAs to fight the reforms, which has “no chance” of succeeding.

Conservative MPs Harriet Baldwin and Mark Garnier secured the Parliamentary debate, due to be held on November 29, following intensive lobbying from their IFA constituents.

Baldwin said: “This is a huge milestone for the many thousands of IFAs across the country who fear their livelihoods will be ruined by the implementation of the RDR.”

But White, a former Treasury policy adviser, dismisses the effect that the debate will have on the FSA reforms, which are set to come into force at the end of 2012. She says: “I think it is a desperate last attempt to have an impact on the RDR which I think has no chance of having any impact. Let’s be frank, these people are trying to stop it happening because they do not want it to happen, whereas anybody with any sense knows it is the right way forward, it is sensible and it has to happen.

“Some IFAs are trying to have a political argument about it because they do not like the sound of it and they do not want to take the exams. It is not going to go anywhere and it should not go anywhere. Harriett Baldwin has clearly had a big surgery bag full of complaints. It is purely political.”

Garnier says White’s comment’s are unfair. He says: “For the first time in the history of the RDR, we have got a Parliamentary debate in front of the House of Commons talking about this. The important point is that unless we get stuck into this, nothing is going to happen. For somebody to write it off as a lastditch attempt is unfair.”


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There are 41 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. “anybody with any sense knows it is the right way forward, it is sensible and it has to happen”. In your opinion, Ms. White. A great deal of other people are of a somewhat different view, not least a good many MP’s who represent the interests of their constituents in a way that the ABI, which is the representaive body for insurers, does not.

  2. How does she know? Is she a psychic as well as a sanctimonious,self righteous loud mouth?
    The RDR in its present form should not be allowed to go ahead.
    FSMA does not allow the fsa to cancel an advisers authorisation simply due to the fact that thay have decided to move the goalposts.
    Shut up and sit down Ms White.

  3. I thought it couldn’t happen!

    My current low opinion of the ABI has sunk beyond rescue.

    The ABI represents vested interests that hope to secure greater business once many of those irritating IFAs are out of the way.

    As an ex-Treasury adviser (an oxymoron if ever there was) she comes freshly armed with her own prejudices.

    Helen, we are fighting for what is right. We are also fighting for our clients, the very ones who have trusted us with their financial futures and not the direct sales forces or banks.

    As acting Director you cannot resign…more the pity.

  4. Ms White I should give up your day job and become a Mystic Meg in Blackpool if you are so psychic! Harriett Baldwin has more going for her than you will ever have, talk about bitchy!

  5. If you spent as much time studying for the exams as fighting RDR, then you would pass no problem.

    Instead of constantly attacking anyone whose opinion does not agree with the anti-RDR IFA’s, maybe you should continue the work done over the years to show IFA’s as professionals, all this continued complaining serves to do is show IFA’s as self-interested, when for the vast majority this is not the case.

    Commence the vitriol against this post.

  6. Why does she not just stay at home and do the dishes are maybe a bit of hoovering as she obviously hasn’t got a clue what she is talking about and the ABI should get someone in with a bit of sense about them.

  7. On the topic of exams and to all those that are already qualified. Can I ask how many have had endowment, pension & structured product misselling claims!!!!!! Exams will never be the answer.

  8. “If you spent as much time studying for the exams as fighting RDR, then you would pass no problem.”

    Passing the exams are not a problem but it’s a principle, we were asked to pass exams before, and now need to do more, seems like it’s just a way of the exam companies staying in business and cashing in to me. I’m half way to AFPC yet these exams count for next to nothing in the new world. Why was these allowed to be set in the forst place if they are so bad now?

    “Instead of constantly attacking anyone whose opinion does not agree with the anti-RDR IFA’s, maybe you should continue the work done over the years to show IFA’s as professionals”

    Are you the Pot or Kettle here?

  9. The sooner people realise that the RDR is about more than exams the better! What will drive small IFA’s out of business will be the abolition of commissions! What the FSA needs to do is simplify the process and bring back the Maximum Commission Agreement as to me excessive commission payments is what is driving this whole issue

  10. Again Mr. Anonymous has been busy both good and bad comments. However, why is Mr. Anonymous frightend to add their name. Is he/her working for the FSA, just to stir up confrontation(divide and rule)

  11. Is it just me or does the last post, that was posted Anonymously sound like Helen White??

  12. Anon 1.02
    The exams are not the problem.
    The unlimited, unaccountable, power of the FSA is.
    The RDR is supposed to benefit the consumer. It will not. The only beneficiaries will be the banks.

  13. Anonymous.

    I’ve taken 4 exams this year & passed so RDR is not a problem personally – we’re also a Chartered firm who charge clients fees for advice or by a set adviser charge as commission if implementation is involved. That’s actually how I’ve worked for years, with no product bias.

    However I agree totally with the arguments against RDR because the public perception will be that the normal everyday person will not be able to afford independent advice….cue the Bank Assurance Sector & their version of free advice! I’ve already had about 3 phone calls from new clients in the last few weeks & first thing they say…is how much do you charge? or what is this going to cost me?

    These are dangerous seeds that the regulator & higher masters have successfully sown.

    Mark Garnier sent me a nice reply to my email about being a McAdvsier & he’s not my MP but he does seem to have a grasp on exactly, what’s going on – His reply about the gnarled finger of regulation and the bias against small businesses was spot on in my opinion.

  14. Another mouse oh sorry Anonymous (1.02pm) , firstly, stop hiding, secondly, we all know the RDR will happen and in some 10/15 years in the future will ultimately further the IFA profession, but if we can raise our profile as part of a Commons debate now, then why not?

  15. Helen White clearly hasn’t got a clue why IFA’s are protesting about RDR, neither do some people on here by the looks of it. It is not about passing exams just to continue to do what you have been doing for 30 years or more, and being considered non competent if you don’t. It is about the effect it will have on the clients/consumers and the availability of Independent Financial advice to only the HNW end of the market. It is about many very well experienced IFA’s leaving the industry as a direct result of the RDR. It is about the massive savings and protection gap in this country getting even wider because of RDR. It is about a regulator who has proven itself to be incompetent, dictating the way forward, without any research to back it up, without any clear cost benefit analysis, with clearly no understanding of how this industry works. Can one of you pro RDR people please tell me why all this is a GOOD thing??? Not how it will benefit you and your business, but how or why this is a good thing for consumers??? For the savings and protection gap??? For IFA’s with 30/40 years experience leaving the industry????

  16. What do you epect from someone with the background at Treasury.

    Dont forget that the ABI will be taking ALL the trail fees and renewal commisions that have been built up over many years BY IFA’s and Insurance BrokersWhen we go out of Business. we are talking Hundreds of Millions over many years to come.
    If you read this Ms White, try looking outside your Treasury box and look at the Damage RDR will do to the ABI when its main Distribution will have disapeared. Get real Woman!

  17. The RDR is exactly what the banks / ABI want, and the INTENDED consequence is the wholesale slaughter of the IFA sector.

    Adair / Sants have the affront to suggest fewer advisers will improve costs when in reality we all know fewer IFAs will mean less choice and less competition for the Banks to rip off their captive audience.

    Inquiry today :- Natwest quoted to one of my clients a life assurance policy costing £198 per month (with a 30% discount ?)
    Yet I can serve the client better with exactly the same life assurance from Aviva for £126 per month !!.

    The FSA is supposed to be a “Regulator” but power has gone to their heads and all they want to do is manipulate everybody’s lives to the lowest common denominator.

    And don’t forget people we live in a democracy !!!

  18. I agree with James Jarvie … ignore Helen what’s her name’s comments … her comments are just lobbying spin … the fact is the ABI represents insurers i.e. suppliers which under RDR will have their products distributed by IFAs for free now as no commission will be paid and via Banks on a non-advised mega commission deal basis. RDR is in its current guise is a paradise market for both banks and insurers… this debate therefore is not about qualifications … all “advice” will be level 4 so we will advise and banks will dump advice and distribute with no-advice sales to avoid level 4 qualifications and keep high commissions… the issue here is we must counter insurers, the ABI and Bankers lobbying to kill the only area of the market that scrutinises their contracts i.e. IFAs .. the ones that really do protect the consumer. As IFAs I suggest we need to ignore the qualifications debate you will lose this argument as it does make sense for all of us to be better qualified … we will all have to be level 4 sooner or later so get on with .. this Monday, the RDR debate must be about stopping consumer detriment ie. stopping it being an easy market for Banks and Insurers to take a must larger share of the market with easier non-advised sales … this is about yet again the FSA getting it wrong and not tackling the real problem is show us some support at I have a number of lobbying meetings on Monday with MPs …. Please register your support

  19. Even those who have passed their exams, IFA’s with sub 60K income clients may find it difficult to generate enough client fees to continue trading and paying the FSA Fees.
    Why cant we just give the client a choice!
    £1.6 Billion FSA cost of RDR, to be paid from our Fees……good value for money then!!!

  20. The Queen was instructed by this Governmen to tell the nation;

    “My Government’s legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.”

    If you can’t get any joy from your MP then why not write to “Her Majesty” as I recon she has more clount than any IFA.

    The whole issue iof regulation The FSA and RDR are simply unjust and unfair.

  21. Has the ABI really thought through their support of the RDR?

    It will put tremendous distribution power in the hands of the banks who will use this to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of the deals they do with insurers.

    The insurers will be able to launch their own direct sales forces again but my memory of those is that they were not a success, particularly when you include the compensation costs.

    Most insurers concluded that the IFA channel was the best. Relatively cheap and no advice liability with the provider. Sadly few of the people running these organisations appear to have a memory of the early 1990’s.

    I suspect (and hope) that the ABI will come to regret its support for the RDR.

  22. I think many people are missing the point here. I`m not whinging about the exams. I`m taking them, but I have to say that I do object to being told that I must now get them in retrospect or I cease to trade. I do think that that is wrong. No, I fear for my many small clients who wont be able to afford fees. We offer clients the choice now between fees and commission. I f it aint broke, dont fix it!

  23. It is getting to the point whereby we can count on one hand anyone in any of these organisations which serves any useful purpose.

    If they all vanished overnight no-one would notice any difference.

    They all are a complete waste of space, probably the only thing that the RDR has done which is useful.

  24. The ABI has a history of anti IFA sentiment. It is a dinosaur organisation propped up by poor quality product providers whose offering is so poor, independent distribution won’t their touch their products – little surprise when Skandia resigned from the ABI a short while ago!

    The ABI speaks for those whose only future is the destruction of independent distribution followed to bwe replaced by tied advice where the consumers are forced to but poor quality products. MPs take note the ABI is anti consumer!

    It is the ABI that is history not the IFA!
    This all dates back to the ABI draft response to the FSA’s retail distribution review, which confirmed the ABI opposition to the current IFA distribution model. The ABI proposals helped form the FSA thinking and encouraged the FSA in their madness which will end of independent advice if not stopped in time.

    The ABI (Association of British Insurers) “claims” to represents the collective interests of the UK’s insurance industry. The Association has around 400 companies in membership. Between them, they provide 94% of domestic insurance services sold in the UK. ABI member companies account for almost 20 per cent of investments in the London stock market. In turn ABI members rely on the IFA for the distribution of their products.

    Now then many of those members claim that they support the IFA! What then is their representative body saying on their behalf with regard to the IFA and what in turn does the membership say in reply?

    Ask your broker consultants if their company supports the ABI views and then vote with your feet. The ABI calls for FSA regulation to stop product providers from paying commission to IFAs or multi-ties for the provision of advice about investment products. It also demands a large increase in capital adequacy requirements for advisers, a new light-touch regulatory regime for providers’ direct salesforces and for single-tied advisers to retain the ability to receive current commission incentives.

    Lets be very clear about this – the ABI is calling for actions that will result in the end of independent advice! In turn IFA need to ask if this is a representation of the views of the product providers that claim to support independent advice.

    If it is not representative then I want to know what product provider are going to do an say to the ABI about the misrepresentation of their views?

  25. Thank you for your support Helen….don’t make speechs about a subject you know nothing about!

  26. Of course the ABI want RDR because it will increase the online business of those they represent. If people can’t or don’t want to pay for advice then they will buy direct from product providers.

    The ABI clearly want that and you should NOT GIVE UP but fight and as hard as you can because RDR and the FSA are unjust and unfair. Nothing to do with exams or fees but the manipulation and control of the advice market.

  27. Of course the ABI doesnt want RDR to fail. It will allow them to build up their direct sales forces and commit to strategic alliances with networks.

    Once again the vested interests of those with the money and power to lobby those in power comes to the fore.

    Never mind what the public want or need.

    As someone working towards chartered status I am all for improved qualifications.

    What I cant understand is a system that will not allow ‘independent’ advisers to offer their clients the option of paying by fees or commission but will allow banks, direct sales forces and people like Which? to offer ‘free’ advice (this issue will become even worse if the FSA gets rid of the disclosure requirements). I know where the average man in the street will be getting his advice from in the future.

    Haven’t the peopel in power learnt their lesson from Equitable Life who offered ‘free’ advice?

  28. Ms White surely has a dim view of the independent sector, I wonder what will happen when the remaining IFAs who have not left the industry or sold out and retired, start to look more closely at her members new products which by all accounts seem to be able to pay commission to tied advisers but not IFAs.

    The exams are a misdirection, most of those still in this industry will either already have the requisite knowledge and qualificaions or at least steadily working towards them

    it is the commission issue which has now come out into the open, her members simply do not want to pay money to the independent sector for distribution, but will still expect us to recommend their products

    I think the idea put forward that we should ask our current providers as to whether they agree with her views is valid, LET’S GET WRITING !

  29. Lee Brooke-Pearce 26th November 2010 at 10:14 am

    I do hope that we recognise that the most important issue to be debated is “will consumers be helped by the RDR”. Im concerned that if all the focus of the debate is on the future of IFAs which whilst clearly important was not the driving force behind the RDR. We must focus on whether the advice gap will be closed by this legislation – thats why we started on this legislative path

  30. Email sent to ABI
    Dear Helen,
    Unless you have been misquoted, I find your recent comments reported in the financial press astonishingly arrogant and breathtakingly dismissive of others strongly held views. I would be keen to know if your comments represent the formal ABI position on behalf of its members?
    For your information I already hold the required exams so do not meet your assumption that those with differing views “do not like the sound of it and they do not want to take the exams”. In itself that comment is a demonstration of your lack of grasp of the detail of the subject.
    I’m attaching a paper previously sent to the TSC explaining why I do NOT feel the RDR and other regulatory measures are in any way, to quote you: ..”the right way forward, …sensible and (have) to happen”
    In terms of one of the papers arguments, perhaps you could explain why you think consumers will be better placed to receive the insurance advice they probably need when there will be fewer advisers around to find and advise them? One could even conclude that your implicit support for the dramatic reduction in IFAs (as confirmed by the Hector Sants in the most recent TSC meeting) might be evidence of the ABI’s desire for its members to operate on greater margins when subjected to far less scrutiny from intermediaries?

  31. ABI Luddite Protects Luddites 26th November 2010 at 12:08 pm

    The internet allows us to scrutinise views and opinions. The ABI has been subjected to this scrutiny and found wanting. The FSA RDR is being subjected to this scrutiny by the TSC and found wanting. Helen White, former treasury employee (the very body that appoints the FSA board) has draw a focus onto the ABI and the ABI is being seen for what it is, a Luddite organisation designed to protect Luddite providers from those who have freedom of product choice.

  32. Mr. Jogga Singh Teidy BA (Hons) RGN Cert.Ed DipWSm 26th November 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I say the solution is as follows and anything being legal constructed should down these lines.

    1. The processing of education and learning permits APL (acquired prior learning) in all areas of our professions especially.

    So based on obsrvation of practice all existing IFA’s should be allowed to practice their profession.

    The job of the FSA like any professional and regulatory body is to advise on and maintain standards and support good practice.

    The job of the FSA is not to cull and decide on staff numbers, the markt and clients will do that.

    2. All new to IFA work should follow the new exam system.

    This way there is no udermining of anyone and all standards are met.

    We must harmoinse and retain standards and avoid unjustifiable arbitrary decsions which harm society at all levels

  33. Helen White and the IFA gravy train 26th November 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Food poisioning is probably the worst you’ll receive from McDonalds, is that comparable to the worst possible advice?

    All the time spent challenging RDR, improving due diligence and researching about the products that the IFA is supposed to be advising on, does distract from counting all the small change earnt by the poverty stricken IFA’s, its a hard life!

  34. Faceless Bureaucrats are always ‘Anonymous’

  35. As per usual there are two camps the fors and the against and the two will never meet.

    I like many others have no objections to upgrading my skills by way of examination and I am in my twilight years in this job.

    It is not that which is the issue. It is the fact that whilst many of my clients will pay fees it is those which cannot afford to pay either a flat rate fee, hourly fee, or two chickens for the advice that I worry about.

    The caveat used to be my door is always open, now it is always open if the fees are paid.

    Just ask the IFA community how many of their nursing clients have contacted them for advice on the changes to the pension scheme recently. I have had three contact me in the last 48 hours. Fine the booklet and DVD are good but they do not put it into the context of the individual. They need to have the right questions asked to enable them to make a sensible decision. That is something advisors are good at not just flogging products.

    Change is fine but change for change sake is a waste of time, money and effort. The RDR fits into that category.

  36. As others have said exams per se are not the problem.

    There are two main problems:

    1) The FSA acting in a dictatorial way – abuse of power

    2) Relevance. For 95% of the SALES that take place each day there is simply no need for Q level 4. The requirement to pass exams at this level is purely political and serves no purpose nor provides any benefit to the consumer.

    Final point – even if there is no FSA u turn – so what ? It is important to speak out against injustice – even if there is no guarantee of success.

  37. Martin Smith | 25 Nov 2010 1:26 pm

    On the topic of exams and to all those that are already qualified. Can I ask how many have had endowment, pension & structured product misselling claims!!!!!! Exams will never be the answer.

    Erm, I have passed them and haven’t had any upheld complaints in 27 years of advising.

  38. Ms White

    You can die from food poisoning.

    The compensation bill for the NHS is budgeted to be £15 Billion (over the next 10 years) and rising and guess who pays for it – the tax payer? We are not so fortunate to have a bottomless pit to pay for our mistakes.

    Doctors, surgeons and dentists etc. go through years of exams to achieve their status yet despite that, mistakes and errors are made. Exams are thus not the “utopia” to good work or advice any more than G60 meant pension transfers were all good advice.

    Commission could easily have been monitored by the FSA if they had chosen to do so. An online system for example could have been used so that when a product was sold, product providers could then enter details of the product used, premium, commission paid or fees charged etc. to the FSA as soon as they were made. Any abuses of commission, products sold or fees taken could then be easily monitored and auctioned accordingly. They had a decade to solve the issue of commission but failed to address it properly which is something we all paid them to do. They failed but as they have no “accountability” failure has little meaning to them as they never get affected by it personally. That is wrong, unfair and unjust.

    RDR is not the only solution but it is the only solution the FSA has managed to think up and they have NOT consulted with the many small IFA’s who have many years of experience (more than the FSA I would guess) no matter what they say.

    The ABI of course has no problems with RDR as their interests are different to that of IFA’s but not once has anyone in these large organisations explained why the consumer is better off or that they have asked the consumer what they want. Telling a consumer what the fee or cost of advice hardly means it is going to be good advice just what it will cost and we have been disclosing commission or fees for years. I have offered fees for over 20 years.

    The FSA, FSCS, FOS has cost us all some £3 Billion since 2003/4 and that excludes our own costs of implementing all the never ending changes which they have IMPOSED upon us and one ex FSA chief indicated that our costs cost could be up to 4 times that amount, so we could be talking about another £12 billion on top.

    So let us say it has cost us £10 Billion (including the £3 billion FSA costs) to protect consumers to the tune of £2 Billion which is the amount the FSCS has paid out to consumers who lost out during that same time. Now £10 Billion or whatever amount it is, is an excessive amount which far exceeds the amount paid out to consumers. How does that make sense?
    As consumers ultimately pay the costs of us all in the end, I am sure they would prefer to have the extra £10 billion in their products or investments.

    RDR does not stop fraud, miss-selling or people being overcharged, which is what it seems the FSA was really concerned about and if sales had been monitored correctly and I have given one suggestion above it would be a lot less costly and onerous that what is being suggested now.

    Exams and qualifications by all means can be useful but they DO NOT GUARANTEE GOOD ADVICE, nor do they guarantee fees or charges will be fair for the work done, so what exactly do they achieve?

    People need advice more than ever and sadly it seems RDR and the fewer and fewer advisers in the industry will mean more people will not take any advice at all. That is not progress.

    Many are leaving not because of RDR but because they are fed up with all the changes, never ending costs and being responsible for their advice until they die, unlike any other industry.

    RDR will in my view mean many will simply self-diagnose themselves on the internet, buying the product online and hoping they have got it right.

    Imagine if doctors charged a fee for you to see them, how many I wonder would self diagnose and buy the drugs online in the hope it will solve their problem. Even if the fee could be taken from the cost of the drugs many would still self diagnose.

    I hope I am wrong but either way RDR has not been proven as a good solution to our problems and I cannot support it for that reason. A fair payment for the work done and yes this MUST be disclosed with the client before hand.

  39. Not sure why the first paragraph of my response above has been removed but I did say that one can die from food poisoning so MS White’s comments implying food poisoning is not serious is not really correct.

    I have a client who doctors believe has cancer as a result of food poisoning.

  40. Ms White is sure because she knows how much money has been spent and is set to be spent on setting the the UK consumer up to be ripped off for years to come. She is part of the Nu Labour regime dedicated to big government and big banks.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  41. I get fed up with those self righteous clowns who try to put down anti RDR IFAs.

    Will they not get it in to their thick skulls the RDR will not work?

    £1.7BN of clients money down the drain and no end result.

    A load of academic qualifications and no improvement.

    Scrap the RDR and audit all advisers, try to remedy those who are doing wrong or are not up to standard, if they cant improve then out they go.

    None of the qualifications could assist anyone in delivering any advice to the current regulatory standard, none of them.

    There is simply large number of qualified advisers who have not had a knock on their door and their files checked yet who believe in their own little heads they are ahead of the game.

    The ones who pay for high quality compliance guidance and audits are much less cocky.

    The RDR is simply avoidance and a sales spiel by the old salesman re badged as fee chargers, they can hide behind a qualification and a thin veneer. Audits are the way forward and a very cost effective one too.

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm