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Alternative thinking

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It would be very easy to get exasperated at some of the letters I receive or some of the anonymous comments on my online columns. I do not, however. Instead, I tend to feel sorry for those who complain through ignorance and blame all but those who have sinned.

A good example here is who does what in the world of exams. I had mentioned in a previous column that I had been tasked with creating the original syllabus for G60, the pensions paper. I explained its content was determined by the then regulator. Despite this, I was criticised for the supposedly irrelevant content.

This week, the Chartered Insurance Institute unveiled its revised set of exams for diploma level, only to be attacked by the same skim-readers. The exam’s style and content is set by the Financial Services Skills Council. Foll-owing input from the regulator, the examining body can then comment, and poss-ibly even discreetly lobby, but in reality it has no influence.

Some then got hysterical about multiple choice. Those of you who remember the multiple true/false format under FP2 will recall that this was no easy option. Seemingly, there is no problem with using the same methods to examine doctors and surgeons, so where is the problem?

Provided the questions are robust and there are barriers to guessing, then I fail to see the issue here. So why does the wrong person/firm/institute seem to take the bullet for the real instigator? Is this not evidence that few take any real interest in our market environment and simply rely on the ill-informed comment of others?

We are about to go through the biggest change in our sector since the maximum commission agreement bit the dust. Yet so few have even read the papers recently published by the FSA. Even worse, some chief executives get others to read them, leading to extrapolation that I can only marvel at. This is the time to get involved, to look at shaping things and not just moaning about them.

To drive change you need to offer sensible alternatives, not just hold out for the status quo. Holding out for the status quo will merely see you going “down, down, deeper and down”. The only impact will be you hitting the proverbial wall – now is the time to take part.

Last summer, I attended The Times’ debate in Edinburgh with Vince Cable and Roy Hattersley. When it got to the Q&A, I suggested to Vince that perhaps this time they really could contemplate getting ready for government. Vince chortled and Roy told me I was outrageous then indicated later that I was possibly going to be proved right via a hung Parliament.

Little did I know how prophetic I was being. Let us just hope that the collective approach can deliver a less ill-thought strategy than the previous incumbents.

It would be regrettable if time is the thing that defeats people who have the ability to provide an excellent service to their clients. As the LibDems used to say at their annual bash: “Go and prepare for government.” I say go and prepare for leveraging the RDR.

Robert Reid is managing director of Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners

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Comments

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  1. I don’t always agree with Robert Reid’s comments, but I wholly agree with his comment that it is essential to actually READ the FSA papers which are likely to effect you and your firm.
    Even when you do, it may not be until hearing something somneone else has picked up on that you can start to fully appreciate how you can overlook one slight change which may have profound effects on your business. Take the trail issue PS 10/6 item 4.18, I’d completely missed it as it is just 11 lines, but it does have implication for anyone thinking of retiring. It’s NOt insurmountable, but it does need a bit of planning between now and 2013 for anyone who intends exiting the industry for whatever reason and would like to pass their clients on to smoothly to a new firm.

    If your name doesn’t appear on any FSA papers list of respondents, particularly RDR ones at the end of a feedback paper, you do not diserve to be taken seriously. You cannot and should not rely on your Network or trade body to put across tyour own views, they invariably have their own agenda (right or wrong).
    If you don’t read it and respond, basing your arguments on the documenst ratehr than hearsay, you only have yourself to blame….
    This is why I say there are good things and bad things about the RDR (or RDIP as it is now), the aim has got to be to help the good occur be sensible debate and stop the bad, again by sensible debate.

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