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Advisers report huge increases in FSCS bills


Advisers have reported staggering increases in their annual Financial Services Compensation Scheme bills, by as much as 756 per cent.

Firms are facing a sharp hit to their profits as the FSCS has today shared out the £93m cost to intermediaries of its interim levy, which mainly covers the failure of Keydata unit Lifemark. Last year’s FSCS interim levy is £80m.

But neither the FSCS nor the FSA could provide an explanation of the scale of the rises reported to Money Marketing.

Philip J Milton & Company managing director Philip Milton [pictured] says his bill was £6,009 last year but today’s bill is 756 per cent higher at £51,459.

He says: “We are not a fund manager in the sense of selling funds and we never promoted a single Keydata product or structured product. It is disgraceful.”

Informed Choice chief executive Nick Bamford says his bill has shot from £1,300 last year to £10,012 today – a 670 per cent rise.

Bamford says: “These IFAs that recommended Keydata are commission-grabbing gits and we are paying for it.”

Skerritt Consultants has seen its bill more than double from £11,000 to £25,100.

Head of investments Andy Merricks says: “We are clearly not happy as it effectively means we have become victims of our own success.

“Keydata and the like are products we had nothing to do with and we are basically subsidising the miscreants of the industry. I wonder who is paying for the latest FSCS ad campaign?”


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There are 48 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Another nail in the coffin of the IFA, how long are we all going to put up with it?
    We are not a bottomless pit,
    about time we all withheld contributions untill those who cause the problems pay their way. IE who Licenced them to Trade yep the FSA.

  2. It IS disgusting – no other industry that I can think of makes the good guys pay for the acts of the bad ones – however, when there was an opportunity to fight a legal campaign on the Keydata issue how many of the companies now moaning about fees actually contributed to the fight. I understand that only about 200 companies were involved, nationwide – that is also a disgrace!!!

  3. This is pretty hard to swallow and is so unjust especially if you have never recommended Keydata or anything like it. The FSA are to blame for their ineptness in monitoriring, but as usual their “get out of jail for free” card (just hit the industry with an extra levy) is being overused.

  4. Likewise not sold any Keydata products and have always put our clients first and yet we have to pay for the transgressions of those ‘others’ who have profited from their incompetance. Not fair and no other professional body has to put up with this type of unlimited liablity / cost

  5. Incompetent Regulators Awards Team 25th January 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Sounds like a bargain and very fair to IFAs!

    P S To Martin Bamford my firm operates both fees and commission choices for clients. So we give proper choices to consumers unlike RDR proposals. RDR is only one symptom of bad FSA regulations and thats what’ll your get if you appease the regulator.

    You might want to re-think what comes out of the FSA in future!

  6. Is there any other business that can go back to it’s customers after issuing fees and say ” Sorry we have had a bad year, can you send me more money to cover my costs). What a fantastic position to be in.

    What the FSA and FSCS are doing is an absolute disgrace and totally unfair on all the good honest advisers who are having to pick up the bill.

  7. Given WE pay the FSA to stop such situations if they were not protected under the FSMA 2000 from any wrong doing we may well had had a claim against the FSA.

    What is the point of regulation if it fails us all again and again?

    We pay huge costs to the FSA and then we pay again when they fail.

    We should not have to pay twice just to protect the consumer.

    It may well be cheaper to protect the consumer alone rather than pay the FSA as well as they add no value at all.

  8. Like other posters, I find it more than a little irritating that, despite being suspicious of Structured Products in general, and being unwilling and isufficiently stupid to touch anything involving Life Settelements at all, I have to meet this appalling and unjust levy increase (450% in my case).

    However – at present, the decision to recommend, or not to recommend, this product, is mine.

    Post 31/12/12, if I choose not to consider this type of product, or indeed others, and reflect this in my Key Facts and Customer Agreement, I will be classed as a Restricted Adviser.

    I assume that thereafter, I shall be exempt from any FSCS levy in respect of products and activities from which I have excluded myself?

    Assuming that the FSA have considered this, and are indeed capable of telling their arse from their elbow, I would be interested to have their confirmation, or am I being naive?

  9. Disgusted and cynical IFA 25th January 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Could someone plesse tell me where the vast monies from the Fines re RBS and Barclays are going? Who is benefiting from these monies and why can’t these monies be used to offset some of the KeyData comoensation.!!!!!

  10. Every year it gets worse. Every year I sound more like Victor Meldrew… but what I just don’t understand is why we now seem to get two FSCS Levy invoices a year. One in late January-April, the other in the summer July/August. Surely this is an own goal for anyone attempting to suggest that this is a well organised system enabling us to plan our businesses properly… so much for systems and controls!

    Each year I am more impressed by fellow IFAs that continue to fight the good fight, despite the hostile environment.

  11. I wonder how much the hike in this levy is down to fewer IFAs being around anymore to palm it off on?

    BTW When do we expect to get the FCSC’s bill for their TV advertising campaign? Weren’t they supposed to be struggling for cash over the refusal of banks to pay the FSO fee regarding PPI complaints.?

  12. Why does this surprise anybody. Lesson from history, this IS the final solution.

  13. These FSCS levies could be just the tip of the Iceberg if a few more bad schemes come to light in the next few years (odds on) and there are 10000 less IFA’s to pick up the bill.
    The situation has the potential to be untenable with huge FSCS additional “one off” additional payments being imposed resulting in some smaller IFA’s unable to pay without sever financial hardship or even need to cease trading as a result………..RDR could be the least of our worries with this Elephant in the corner of room.

  14. An absolute travesty and, I suspect, illegal.

    Perhaps we should take our case to the European Court of Human Rights.

  15. I would have thought all of you would have figured it out by now with the FSA et al, just keep bending down & bit your lip!!!!!!!!!!

    The pain will only last til Jan 2013 then the last one up who can still walk can turn the lights off!!

  16. We all had our chance to fight this and a derisory 200 IFAs backed the Regulatory Legal action.

    I never recommended these products and will have to pay up like the rest of my peer group, however I can hold my head up high and say that at least I had a go, money well spent and I would do it again.

    Looking at the costs, the FSCS hired the very best legal team at a huge cost some 5 times the cost of Regulatory Legals costs who could only work within the funds they were given.

    Whilst having every sympathy, it non the less makes me wonder that perhaps if all the people who are now being slapped with 750% increases in the FSCS levy had been involved at the outset and built a bigger war chest, the increased budget may well have brough about a better outcome, but we will never know – perhaps next time around eh chaps ?.

  17. It must be great to be the FSA or the FSCS.they can literally write their own salaries for ever more.if a firm has got plenty of money they fine them now and again for breaking the rules which are so vague its untrue.if a product goes down as with keydata well they can’t fine them as it has no money left…… So reclassify it as an adviser and let IFA’s pay for it.they really can’t lose.trouble they don’t give a damm about consumers or advisers.they only care about protecting themselves.oh by the way they don’t want advisers to earn any money either…… Even though the real cost to getting advice is the cost of regulation!!!

  18. Never sold a Key Data thingy… and none of my clients are on Platforms ( the next part of the structure to collapse) so can I please be excused from this party and from other ‘flavours of the month’….

    For the record, I dont want to be compared to Solicitors and Accountants and all this hi-fallutin’ Chartered stuff….. I am an IFA, we deal with Joe public, the ones that will most probably never pay fees…. widows when the breadwinner dies, a bit of term here and there and a Stakeholder pension for old age….we dont earn great money but it’s rewarding work and I enjoy it – so why are we part of what can only be considered some form of ethnic cleansing by the FSA…?

    I hope you have the resources in place to pick up our business and do our charity work after we have been driven out of town….

  19. Over to you AIFA – comment please.

  20. Surely a product levy is the only sensible method of transforming the current madness into logic.

    Why not have four discussion papers, three consultation documents and two feedback statements regarding this?

  21. My understanding is that fines levied by the FSA are offset the fees paid by other companies in the same fee block. So does that mean that fines levied against the banks will ultimately benefit the banks as their fees and levies will be reduced ironically for giving poor advice? Or is it a case that the levies are simply set against the number of advisers a firm has, in which case the levies are subsidised by the biggest culprits? Hmmm! Answers on a postcard….

  22. Fraser Brydon - IFA 26th January 2011 at 9:19 am

    The banks go bust, we pay for it. Product Providers go bust we pay for it. IFAs are driven out of buisness they pay for it. Something is not right………last one to leave the UK please switch the lights out!

  23. Post 1:

    “Failure to obtain the necessary authorisation – simply to exist – is not solely based on an
    objective assessment of what is right and wrong, nor indeed of what is deemed criminal. The
    criteria which may dictate whether you are guilty of a potential criminal act may not be the
    commission of such an act.

    The over-riding criteria may be your ability to adhere to a set of subjectively assessed rules,and, even more significantly, your ability to absorb the running costs involved in enforcing such rules. Ignore honesty!

    It may be the rules and costs which prove to
    be your prison.

    Take any drop in the number of intermediaries to be regulated, add any increased regulation
    costs and multiply by a call on the compensation fund and they equal an immediate cost increase.

    Any such costs are uncontrollable and there is no compensating price increase. An
    inability on the part of an intermediary to absorb totally all such costs becomes a potential
    criminal offence. You do not actually have to commit an offence, it can just happen to you.”

    I wrote those words in this paper in 1986 – I repeat them today because perhaps the full realisation of the truth of that prediction may be the “tipping point” to look for and find alternatives.

    I say perhaps because I do wonder if there is a real desire to find alternatives, or just to complain.

    I offer one suggestion in a post below – I hope it might spark not only a debate but some uniform action.

    1 tip: Don’t expect any help at all from the regulators – what I say below starts on a free market basis – something I don’t think the regulators understand,

  24. Post 2:

    In banking the debate over being “too big to fail” takes place – but where do we see any similar debate extend to the FSA or its forthcoming successors as being “too big to fail”?

    In banking the debate over “moral hazard” takes place – but where do we see any debate extend to the FSA’s failures which represent the very same “moral hazard” – where the cost of such failures fall not on the FSA but on everyone else.

    Yes, we have proposals from politicians, we have had them before, they gave us the SIB, Lautro, etc – which failed, then we were given the FSA, and FSCS etc., – now they are seen as equal failures – and yet, what evidence exists that any real lessons have been learned as we approach yet more political proposals for change?

    Why is that we see no practical ideas coming forward for change, for alternatives, not from politicians, the authors of the previous failures, but from within those affected, from IFAs, from investment managers, but which crucially have as their genesis changes that would truly benefit the investing public.

    The FSCS, the subject of this item was a politically designed answer – but it is, and always was, designed to be an answer for failure – the failure, not the success, of the regulatory system itself.

    Consider this quote from Hector Sants to the Treasury Select Committee in November last year as he looks forward “… I am trying to wean people off an expectation that you operate a no failure regime …”.

    Hector Sants, soon to be CEO of the Prudential Regulation Authority intends to simply continue a system which anticipates and allows for more failures.

    Think back over just the past 20 years or so, make a list for yourself of the Keydata’s, the Equitable Life’s, the Northern Rock’s, the RBS’s, the HBOS’s, Lloyd’s Syndicates, Independent Insurance, the Lehman’s, the LTCM’s … keep going, and don’t forget the Farepak’s – it is a long list.

    Add up the costs of such failures – can we afford such costs, if you think not – then can we suggest alternatives to this catalogue of failures?

    When Hector Sants expects everyone to meekly accept a future of more failures – perhaps we should all ask is “Is that the answer you and the public want or need – or can a better one be designed”?

    Here are some initial and wholly random thoughts – they point in the direction of a new market, one which does not yet exist, but which may have every reason to be considered – and it can be created outwith the straitjacket of further failures designed by politicians and to be implemented by Mr Sants.

    1) When we hear of sovereign debt, it is unlikely that we will not also hear of Credit Default Swaps, an insurance against default – with, importantly, the “price” of purchase being a key indicator of the risk involved.

    2) Down a peg or two, you will find the Export Credit Guarantees Department offering a form of insurance against potential defaults – where again the levels of cover given and the “price” to be paid are key indicators of the risks involved.

    3) Venture a step further down and the recent news over the removal of credit insurance for HMV, and again you have what could not be a clearer indication of the levels of potential risk involved – where it is “there is NO price” against which cover will be provided – could there be a clearer signal of the levels of potential risks involved?

    4) When your client buys a gold ring at £10,000 – would you expect him/her to insure it against loss? What if the same client invests in a gold commodity fund – same answer?

    When the FSA’s best efforts fail, as they have, and as Hector Sants promises that under the PRA they will continue to fail – unlike an Insurer whose money is at stake, the FSA pay no price for failure, everyone else is left to pay the bill – and for me that plays a key part in why there is every reason to debate these issues, and to consider alternatives.

    Or do we all just sit about waiting for the next failure, and then complain about “the price”?

    One, of more than one, possible alternatives, in sketch form only lies in the above examples, it is one which allows all those who seek to invest to determine through “price” the risks they may be taking on.

    Clients understand, nearly instinctively, why the “price” of insuring an 18 year old Subura Impreza driver will be higher than a 55 year old Ford Escort driver – they know one carries a higher risk. When you ask them about their attitude to risk – do they understand, really understand the risks – dd those who invested in Keydata?

    What if they were given a “price” to insure against the risk – and the price quoted for Keydata was much higher than alternatives – would they not then better understand the true nature of such risks?

    What prompts all the complaints in these columns? Is it the “price” of regulation, is it the “price” to be paid out for compensation after the FSA fail?

    In a market economy there is perhaps no better signal than that of “the price” – the evidence is all around – it is perhaps time that lessons were drawn from it and instead of just complaining – ideas for change debated.

    Or given experience to date – do you truly believe politicians, and/or regulators have all the right answers?

  25. It is not just IFAs who are suffering – we are DFMs and our levy has gone up 17,000%, £113 for every one of our clients. Like the other bloggers we never went near Keydata. As DFMs we have quite onerous capital adequacy requirements to meet which the FSA expects us to stress test against various scenarios. I have to say that a 17,000% increase in our FSCS levy was not one of the scenarios we ever envisaged!

  26. He who is without Sin!! 26th January 2011 at 9:26 am

    I comment as a firm that advised a very small number of clients with the Key data Defined income plan 2008. I am extremely disappointed with the outcome and feel there may be some significant underlying issues in terms of the regulator role that may have exacerbated the eventual outcome.

    Senior life settlements offered and continue to offer an alternative asset class as part of an overall investment portfolio.

    It is important to remember the economic environment, post credit crunch, equity and property in freefall, and some clients needing and accepting to take some risk to maintain investment income levels without further erosion of capital.

    Key data at face value were an award winning firm, as voted by professional advisors, over 2005/2006 and 2007. Administratively they were exemplary by industry standards. Examination of the Life mark bond provided for liquidity of 30% for coupon payments and maturities. I personally enquired of Key data prior to advising any clients if the significant change in economic background, low interest rates, scarcity and cost of credit and North American economics in general had any negative impacts on the original model and its actuarial ability to deliver the income and capital redemption objectives.

    All obvious risks were commensurate with the asset class.

    As with all things in life we have to trust that all parties in the investment process will act diligently and professionally and within there mandate.

    Clearly Key data did not advise of the HMRC ISA issue. Neither did the FSA make it known their findings and concerns in 2007. Booth these elements would be sufficient to raise concerns.

    Without Government intervention 3 Banks would have failed.

    Can anyone tell who the next Keydata, Leemans, Arch Cru, Northern Rock will be.

  27. Postcard follows (imagine a nice picture of Canary Wharf with Lord Turner standing proudly in the foreground) :-

    Keith T – you are right. So, if the fines were spread evenly amongst the banks each levy would reduce each FSA fee by the same amount for the following year. Of course if you’re a good bank and don’t have any fines you’ll still get the benefit of a fee reduction.

    It might be a bit (a lot?) fairer if the fines were used to reduce the overall total, but I ain’t holding my breath.

  28. As soon as Regulatory Legal got involved with the Key Data case anyone with any sense should have known it was doomed to failiure, should have saved your money for the eventuall outcome.
    An independant legal firm with no FSA baggage might have approached things better

  29. Mike Fenwick raises a number of important issues.

    Paul, why not let Money Marketing take this forward and arrange for IFAs and product providers to convene a meeting to discuss how this can be taken forward. How fairness and commonsense can be pushed back into this forlorn industry.

    Adviser Alliance will be willing participantsd and we would welcome the involvement of AIFA if they are interested.

  30. I have lost all my life savings using an IFA who recommended Keydata. Why do your community not gang up on these companies/people and hold them totally responsible?

  31. Stop moaning Milton, you are forever complaining about something! Perhaps you should not have spent so much money on your unsuccessful campaign to become an MP? My Bill has reduced by 50%, as the FSA has brought in a much fairer way of calculation based upon Annual Eligible Income, which is all relative to every firm.

  32. Mike Fenwick.

    Visionary comments and a genuine basis to start a debate for an alternative solution.

    ALan Lakey,s comments to further the iniative are spot on.


  33. @ He who is without Sin!! | 26 Jan 2011 9:26 am

    You ask : Can anyone tell who the next Keydata, Leemans, Arch Cru, Northern Rock will be.

    Your question goes to the heart of what requires debate and the need for alternatives.

    Let me respond by using the sketch examples I used above.

    Say I wanted to invest in the sovereign debt of Portugal or Ireland or indeed any country, but was worried over the risk of default – there is a market for obtaining the necessary credit ratings, and a market for obtaining or being refused cover against default.

    Say I wanted to export manufactured goods to India and/or North Korea – again there is a market for seeking both information on the risks involved, and potententially depending on the levels of risk a market for obtaining or having cover refused.

    I get another order from HMV – my credit insurer says “at your own risk this time” – but we are still happy with you supplying to XYZ.

    Markets are a source of information, it is one of their primary functions. You ask the question, and a market will give you an answer – and a price.

    Now apply that to the FSA – the supposed regulator of markets.

    Try this – if you as an IFA on behalf of your clients or an execution only client – about to invest – wrote to the FSA and said “I understand you are there to protect my interests – and I further understand you constantly monitor the markets and the market participants. Here is a list of the investments I am considering – do you have any current concerns over these companies, and would you be so kind as to keep me informed if any such concerns arise in the future?

    What answer would you or the client be given?

    Yes, that last question was rhetorical – you know the answer.

    Consider further at perhaps a deeper level why I believe debate and action is required – consider why Parliament is not allowed to see the full FSA report into what went wrong at RBS.

    Does that strike you as at all worrying as everyone in this country pays the price for another FSA failure, a price which affects each and every one of us – and nobody including Parliament is allowed to know in full what happened.

    Do you think that is correct?

  34. Aimed squarley at MR Bamford

    You should be ashamed of that comment about commission grabbing gits and I suggest you withdraw it unless you have evidence to support the statement which for reasons of data protection, you cannot have.

    How do you know wether clients were sold Key Data products and chose to pay a fee? answer you don’t!

    You should be ashamed of yourself for using this media for self interest. Your comment is of no use to anyone and certainly cannot be substantiated.

    Chris Neil

    I have no self interest and did not sell any of these products

  35. I have just received an e-mail from a close relative of the former ruler of Nigeria. Basically they have this investment that if it goes right there is a 100 million pound + on offer but funds have to be raised first. I have decided that I can act as an intermediary get authorised by the FSA as such and sell £1000 bonds to clients (sorry investors) with the “implied” guarantee on my material that they will get £10,000 back, if it goes wrong and sadly we have no past performance records, I will just declare my limited company in default and the great news is for clients (investors) is that there are a load of mugs who will pay them there money back. What more can you want bascically a no lose gamble.

    The point I am making is that no one replies to these e-mails because they are a scam but if the implied guarantee was there of your money back people would.

    There has to be moral hazard if people invest in a foreign ban account paying 6% and it goes belly up, guess what they lose there money – tough. They should have kept it in the Uk albeit for a lower rate but if the FSA has authorised it they should be responsible but it should be paid by the tax payer and the heads of the FSA facing criminal charges just like the driver of a coach would do if he was speeding and had a crash.

    My advice has tended along the lines of would i buy myself and that started back in the beginning when my manager at an IB life company castigated me for not selling endowment mortgages under the guise it doesn’t pay the bills doing repayment.

    The best answer is that limited companies should have top carry more reserves and if the advice is “negligent” they have to pay out, similar to a sole trader.

    The sad thing through reading these threads is that the vast majority of us never sold these and see our livelihoods threatened through yes poor advice, greed of clients and negligence of the FSA

  36. Philip Netherwood 26th January 2011 at 12:32 pm

    The FSA should be recovering the losses from the bad advisers not the good ones, but of course that would require more effort. The only option we may have in response to the FSA charging firms as they wish, is to refuse to reduce commissions, as we need to cover FSCS costs before we comply with RDR! Maybe that is the feedback networks should be giving the FSA i.e. whilst this fallout continues they must relax other requirements that will further inpact on our income – we cannot take any more! Those in charge of RDR seem to be ignoring the fact that we have had a financial crisis. If we just keep taking all of this on the chin the FSA won’t change it – a case of bad things will continue to happen as long as good people continue to do nothing in response.

  37. What happens if we ALL refuse to pay? Can they ban us all?

    When the banks ‘phone the Treasury and threaten to move abroad there’s a quick call to the FSA telling them to back off.

    Write to the Treasury, write to your MP and refuse to pay!

  38. I admit I sold a handful of key data products that have fallen foul of the FSA, however I also sold many sucessful ones which continue today to give clients good returns. On the other hand, where the problem appears to lie is in the main, off the page or blanket mailings from massive IFA organisations who did not offer advice at point of sale. As I say its is a disgrace that the FSCS levy has been blown out of proportion for the failings of a few. It will ultimatley put smaller firms like mine out of business, sell up an walk away seems to be the order of the day.

  39. I have read the comments regarding what other industry makes the good guys pay for the bad…etc and believe the industry is “insurance” I think the difference with FSCS levies is that there is no “no claim discount”, maybe it should be collected via PI Cover?

  40. To Anonymous | 26 Jan 2011 1:10 pm
    What happens if we ALL refuse to pay? Can they ban us all?

    The simple answer is yes.
    Mission accomplished.
    They would love to get rid of us all in one fell swoop.Otherwise it is back to” Death by a 1000 cuts”.( sorry I mean compensation bills).Time consuming but the FSA love every minute of it.

  41. Didn’t think they would publish my last remark about Nick Bamford

  42. Strangely ours REDUCED to princely £7.81 – yes that’s right £7.81!

    And this was despite increasing our investment business by a factor of 20 in the last calendar year. OK we’re a 2 man band but even so…..

    This makes me think . Are the interim fees based on investment business written or what the business can afford/profit levels. Don’t forget the FSA have all the profitability, balance sheet and investment business level info via GABRIEL. Dead easy bit of computer programming would allow a variable scale to be applied (not that I’m complaining) depending on profitability. Maybe there is the FSA equivilent of a higher fee payer.

  43. @£7.81

    The period assessed for eligible turnover was 2009/10. The last years figures will be used for NEXT years theft.

  44. Anyone else see what Aifa had to say about this? “AIFA will continue to challenge the FSA on the how this firm was allowed to avoid regulatory scrutiny and pursue a better balance for IFA firms from the FSCS process.”

    The words ‘stable door’ ‘horse’ and ‘bolted’ spring to mind. Not really value for members’ money is it?

  45. The formula is very easy according to the invoice department.

    The total levy to be raised for the sub-class is £92,673,117.00 (A) and the total annual eligible income for all participant firms is £3,701,380,911.00 (B).

    For example.

    The levy is calculated by: (A) divided by (B) multiplied by the firms tariff data

    = (A)/(B) * £43,375

    = £1,086.00

    The FSA must have data to which companies recommended the Keydata plans, and therefore why could they not levy the charge more on those firms as they have made money on selling the plans. My company has not, but expected to pay my share.

    This is clearly not fair and makes you think perhaps we should make an effort to participate in the next Keydata saga, whatever it may be!

  46. This flies in the face of Treating Customers Fairly. The ONLY source of this FSCS payment is OUR CLIENTS because companies don’t pay taxes, their CUSTOMERS do. So, all these costs will be passed to the consumer. The FSA’s actions in allowing this prove that TCF is a sham.

  47. who actually sold all of the Keydata products to the public that have caused this massive problem? Keydata, Banks or IFAs?

  48. Bring back caveat emptor

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