I have read your report in Money Marketing in which your survey shows 80 per cent of the public do not want to pay fees. This has motivated me to write to you with my own views, being an IFA of some 30 years running a small practice in Buckinghamshire.
It is appalling that the FSA in their research for CP121 based their findings on 36 face-to-face interviews and questioned another 40 people in focus groups. As you have pointed out, this does not represent a sufficient sample on which to base any decision.
My experience has been more in keeping with your own in that we have many thousands of clients who seem extremely happy with the fact that we get commission and we do not have to resort to them for the payment of fees.
There are, of course, circumstances where fees would be appropriate, particularly where insurance products are not advised or sold if you like or taken up by the client. The Government and now the FSA are keen to promote savings which I think we all agree would be in the interest of most individuals. This, of course, has been our philosophy for many years and others in our industry to promote the wellbeing of all our clients in a financial sense.
What the Government or the regulators find difficult to grasp is that savings and investments need to be sold – people do not generally buy. Therefore, if that is the case, then advisers and salesmen need to be paid accordingly and generally commission is the soft option for most people.
The other point that the Government and regulators find difficult to grasp is that by advisers getting commission it does not mean to say that they are not doing a good job and do not have their clients' interests at heart.
I have been an IFA for more than 30 years (although we were originally called insurance brokers) and I have known many other individuals over the years that do an excellent job for their clients and integrity is never brought into question.
We are the professionals and we have been working in this industry for many years and although we may not have been professionally qualified initially, we are so now and I, for one, have been sitting exams consistently over the last six years or so.
I do feel that one of the reasons the industry has had a bad name in the past is those unscrupulous salesmen coming into our business taking massive commission and then leaving it for us professionals to pick up the pieces. The majority of insurance advisers do an excellent job whether they are tied agents or independents.
The Government and the regulators have got it wrong as they only look at the theory, not the practice, and it is the practice in which we are involved on a day to day basis at the grassroots level.
It is not only our livelihoods that are at stake but also a well qualified and body of individuals with integrity that will promote savings and investments into the future, which will satisfy the Government and the regulators alike.
Mine is a small voice but I am sure I share this with many thousands of others who do not want to be buried alive by bureaucrats who do not really understand the principles of what they are trying to achieve.
Having said that, we are a very resilient lot in the insurance industry and have survived countless changes over the last two decades. The authorities should listen to us rather than pay lip service.
Michael Moore Life & Pensions, Gt Missenden, Bucks