If I had one business wish for this year, it would be that the regulator acted more proactively to promote a positive image of the industry. It needs to reduce the scope for misselling which can only be achieved by it becoming more accountable and playing a greater role in the regulation of our industry.I am fed up with dealing with scandals after the event and finding that the measures taken were insufficient to protect the adviser. With improvements in technology this century this situation can be eradicated. The FSA employ a large skilled workforce and I would like to see it use part of that workforce to scrutinise each provider’s products. The FSA would then only allow the product provider to retail its products once its literature had been approved. The regulator would stipulate what sales literature had to be given according to the sale processes used. Post sale, the process would be fully approved. If it was an advisory sale, a suitability letter would be written by the adviser but each fund and product would have a draft suitability letter approved by the FSA, with mandatory sections. The adviser would be responsible for tailoring this to the client. The draft letter would be pulled off the internet, dated and coded, so it was clear that the letter was current. This appears like a straight jacket for the adviser. In practice, it would save time, reduce the scope for misselling and cut our PI insurance. Yes, the adviser could make a mistake on tax or put a high-risk product with a low-risk client but it would be a simple error which is what PI should be for. Never could a company bring a new product to the market without having it examined, risk rated by the regulator and an approved sales process being agreed for advisory and non-advisory sales. This process would have eliminated the Split Cap debacle, where the literature said it was low risk and the regulator said otherwise and that it had no responsibility for the product provider’s literature. Similarly, precipice bonds could surely not have been marketed as they were and the same goes for endowments. I am minded of one company which paid out millions for pension transfer misselling mainly because its suitability letters in the early 1990s did not include a risk warning about falling annuity rates. If this was a mandatory paragraph in a suitability letter completed online, this could not have happened. This is a massive undertaking but it could be phased in product class by product class over a period of time and, given the insurance company’s interest in having its product in a position to be sold, the FSA could count on plenty of support. The FSA could focus on high-risk product areas, such as lifetime mortgages, and prevent rather than react to problems. We are a 21st-century industry and we have the technology to implement this measure. For the first time we would have true accountability of the regulator and the adviser would have a robust compliance system that was up to date. If the adviser had followed the prescribed sales process and matched the product to the clients’ needs, there should be no scope for a misselling claim because best practice could be proved to have been followed. There would be reduced scope for the ambulance chasers, a reduced need for external compliance and lower costs. The regulator would still have plenty to do and while new products would take longer to bring to market, I wouldn’t care if it meant that those that were saleable could be retailed with 100 per cent confidence and no more looking over ones shoulder. This measure would have prevented the misselling of precipice bonds, endowments and split capital investment trusts and reduced pension transfer misselling. I can think of no other measure that would have been so effective and given the billions that these have cost and the loss to our respectability, there is no excuse for not implementing it now.
Morgan Stanley Investment Management is targeting multi-managers with a new US Sicav and 26 other funds it is making available to UK investors through the creation of distributor share classes.
Pru has slashed the interest rate on its flexible lifetime mortgage product offered through intermediaries It comes down from 6.45 per cent to 6.02 per cent. Pru has also declared that advisors will be paid an additional 450 on top of their commission, even if the customer only draws down the minimum amount.Pru claims that […]
Amex refuses to comment on speculation that its wrap could face closure if a buyer is be found for the platform. The Amex wrap has a range of 4000 funds and around 50m of assets under administration.
Winterthur Life pensions strategy manager Mike Morrison previews some of the retirement options being made available as a result of the pension changes in April and concludes that some simplification might be in order
Dr. Andrew Lo, Founder and Chief Investment Strategist at AlphaSimplex, discusses how the firm takes into account human behaviour when constructing their portfolio, specifically by embedding the idea of volatility targeting in all of their strategies.
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