If I was an over-cynical type or it was one of those days in London where heavy clouds linger overhead all day, I could be forgiven for thinking there are huge numbers of people making a heap of money out of the RDR one way or another. And that is ignoring IFAs.
There is the business consultancy that sets out to carefully wean IFA firms off the commission drug and transform them into shiny, sparkling businesses with salespeople. Then there are the alarmist consolidation firms that gobble up fearful IFA businesses, providing carrot-dangling exit strategies, the promise of a golden retirement and consolidation options, creating one big monster.
Then the FSA, the godfather of them all, has produced one paper after another, creating twist after twist, employing many man hours in the process. Finally, we have the CII. It seemed to be churning out one exam after another until it became too much to bear, so then came gap-filling. And yet for some IFAs incomes have fallen or are under threat.
For sure, there are firms and advisers which have grabbed the bull by the horns and welcomed the changes and whatever new challenges come along. There are plenty more who are not there yet but have started the journey. Meanwhile, the laggards now compare badly with the others, falling even further behind as demands increase and looking on in envy or disdain at such trumpeting. And to start now – well, they would need to lie down in a dark room and not come out for a few days before making any attempts.
This is not an RDR moan. The FSA has given us plenty of warning and the drivers are nothing new. Financial DIY has grown, life insurers would go bust under the old model and every bear market leaves the traditional commission-based adviser badly exposed. RDR can be the saviour of the blissfully delusional transactional IFA and, what’s more, the industry will increase in stature as a result of greater professionalism.
For me, the new model is becoming more of a reality. The qualifications bit was relatively straightforward. I became a chartered financial planner at the age of 37, quietly racking up exam passes, benefiting from being part of the younger generation used to exams. I was lucky. However, at the graduation ceremony, I saw a huge range of ages collecting their gongs. It was a reminder that it is never too late to learn and the profession would be worse off for losing those with a wealth of experience. Looking around the room of graduates, I saw a lot of pride, so, if nothing else, do it for yourself. Make a start and get that diploma. Use the new regime to build a rewarding career as a truly professional adviser.
Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands