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AIFA’S view – David Severn

Dare I express any reservations about the FSA’s Treating Customers Fairly project and run the risk of being regarded as someone who wants to see clients ripped off?

I have a couple of reservations. First, this is yet another FSA initiative. Is a TCF scheme necessary when most IFAs aspire to put the interests of their clients first?Second, there is the risk of creating an unwritten rulebook. If the FSA starts collecting what it calls good practice and promulgates it to the rest of the industry, that is dangerously close to giving guidance and raising the standards expected of all firms. If the FSA is serious about having a more stable regulatory environment for firms, it should be asking: “Is your journey really necessary?”The FSA’s consultation paper on regulatory fees and levies is high on the agenda of member’s concerns. The main issue is footing the bill for compensation costs. There is a unfairness which suggests that funding compensation costs are flawed. Many IFAs have never transacted the types of business which give rise to compensation claims and yet they are expected to contribute to the costs. Moreover, the majority of good IFA firms, which were able to spot the flaws in the products being punted by providers, were in no position to exercise any control over the few IFAs whose actions have led to compensation claims. In contrast, product providers are escaping lightly, especially when the products they design need a rocket scientist to understand them and second, for not giving IFA’s enough support to understand them.

One of the challenges of my new role is keeping the diary in check. I am signed up to attend all Aifa’s regional conferences this year, plus a host of other engagements. However, I must enure that I do not fall down on the key job of being around to influence regulators and Government departments. So if my diary reaches saturation point for speaking engagements and I have to turn someone down, please understand that I am devoting sufficient time to influencing on your behalf.

David Severn is director general of Aifa

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