Four years of intense graft, effort and sacrifice reached its conclusion this year and, no, this is not about the FSA and the RDR experiment. I am talking about the Olympics where, as usual, there were more losers than winners. A lucky few achieved results beyond their realistic hopes, while others underperformed due to stress, injury or plain over-exuberance.
As sport pundits eulogise the heroes and scribble damning obituaries regarding the fallen, I have paused to consider the medal winners and also-rans within the financial services industry over the past four years.
A bronze medal was gained by Aifa, a result that staggered many observers as it was considered a mere shadow of its former self.
Somehow it had contrived to lose two head coaches in recent years, as well as much of its funding, and had exhibited a woeful lack of leadership and direction that some doubted it would even make it to the starting line.
Fortunately, a new coach, some new additions to the council and a rediscovery of focus have seen a revival of sorts, resulting in this surprising third place, even after surmounting an arguable false start.
Also on the podium displaying a deserved silver medal is Friends Life, a company that has successfully absorbed the best aspects of its Axa, Bupa and Friends Provident constituent parts.
Friend’s protection offering has placed its focus on quality rather than engaging in the never-ending price war and, as a result, it has waved the value flag to the benefit of advisers and consumers
Perhaps the biggest surprise to many was the gold medal winner, the unseeded newcomer PanaceaIFA.
This IFA support body has extended the scope of its services throughout the year and engaged with the industry on numerous important issues. Owner Derek Bradley has also worked tirelessly for the rights of advisers, particularly in respect of the missing longstop and the encroaching menace of claims management parasites.
So, who failed to medal? Fellow columnist Nic Ciccuti had hinted at promise but after some early success he slipped back into his old habits and his challenge fell away rather tamely. Surgery and a new training regime may be the answer.
The Financial Ombudsman Service briefly threatened as a medal contender but quickly reverted to type as a consumer champion. Like Ben Johnson, it blamed its coach for all manner of inadequacies so, on the basis of hearsay and the balance of probability, it was eliminated at an early stage.
Even though it failed to turn up at the trials, the FSA was entered by the Treasury, which pronounced it a serious medal hope and a world-class competitor. In truth, it never looked likely to reach the final stages as too many of the team cried off with injuries, while some key players elected to compete for other teams where the rewards were greater.
Such musings hide the bitter truth that in the real world, the Treasury and the regulator always take to the podium because they make the rules and can disqualify any who seem to threaten their dominion.
Rio in 2016 sounds like a great place to be, not for the Olympics but simply to get away from this depressing scene and, of course, there is no extradition.
Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Services