Thinking ahead to 2014, I can already see there are a range of issues crowding Apfa’s agenda for the year.
The FCA will be conducting its post- implementation review of the RDR this year. With only one full year of data, it will be hard to draw firm conclusions about its impact and any trends.
I expect further change will follow but assessment of the client’s experience will be possible. Apfa will be engaging with FCA about what is working and what is not.
This will be an important year for the FCA. A number of the early initiatives should come to conclusion and we will see just how different from the FSA it will be. Apfa hopes to see some positive outcomes in respect of reporting requirements for advisers as a result of the review of data.
The review of non-advised sales and simplified advice should provide greater clarity about what the FCA expects of this area and it may seek to further simplify the requirements for the simplified model. Apfa also expects to see publication of measurable performance indicators, reform of the fee structure and a review of the long stop.
I would encourage the FCA to continue to engage with the sector in the open manner they have adopted – it will help foster a common understanding of their expectations.
In May, there will be elections for the European Parliament. The new parliament may revisit legislation that has been considered but not finalised over the past year. This is a possibility with the Insurance Mediation Directive (which includes the sale of protection) and the Prips regulation, which concerns disclosure documentation.
Towards the end of 2013, Apfa saw off an attempt to use it to cap what advisers could charge for advice.Given difficulties across Europe, the make-up of the new parliament could be very different to now and Apfa will monitor developments.
The Care Bill should be finalised in the first half of the year. The Department of Health will then consult on how it will require local authorities to promote financial advice to those who need to plan to pay for their own care.
A recent survey of advisers (conducted by NMG for Apfa) found that nearly 60 per cent of advisers are inter-ested in working with local authorities in this way. This is an opportunity for advice businesses to gain clients and demonstrate to the Government and a wider public the value of financial advice.
Finally, Apfa will be 15 years old in November. It reminds me that relatively I am a newcomer but there are plenty of people around who are still with us from the early days. There have been ups and downs along the way but it is important to stick at it as providing proper representation on a wide range of issues, both here and in Europe, is a full-time job.
I think Aifa/Apfa has done much to establish a strong and credible voice for advisers over that time and we look forward to continuing for another 15 years.
Chris Hannant is director general of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers