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Alan Lakey: Who are the medal winners of the past four years?

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


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There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Eddie “the eagle” head coach for the FCA, they will need first hand experience on how to bounce when they come off the steep downward slope that is RDR.

    Well done Alan a nice jovial (but serious points) for a Friday.

  2. Alan, you failed to mention your own organisation Adviser Alliance which was disqualified in the heats! You regularly ask for IFAs support to help with the cause, yet the organisation is impossible to contact and doesn’t even acknowledge a new subscription or confirm log on details. A bit like Phillps Idowu, nobody quite knew where he was or what went wrong with his performance!

  3. I am not that difficult to contact, Chris. All three Directors details are on the FSA register. I am at;

    The Idowu analogy is a good one because after years of being sneered at and laughed at he came good and won many titles. Similarly he couldn’t give a fig what the top brass think.

    Nice one.

  4. Hector Sants might have been a contender for the podium but he flunked the last few hurdles and bailed out instead, probably having realised that they’ve all been set far too high for any mere mortal to clear ~ at least, far too high to clear with his wedding tackle still intact.

  5. Hector Sants might have been a contender for a position on the podium but he flunked the last few hurdles and bailed out instead. Quite probably this will have been because he realised that said hurdles have all been set far too high for most mere mortals to clear, other than by incurring severe damage to his wedding tackle.

    So he did the prudent thing and opted instead for 6 months of generously paid gardening leave whilst contemplating at leisure his options for the future.

    Maybe next time, eh Hector?

  6. if the best our industry can manage for medals are Friends Life and AIFA, then God help us all!

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