In the past, I have been an advocate of responding to consultation documents issued by Government or regulator. After all, I think it rather hypocritical not to respond and then to complain about changes after they have been made.
However, it is not my intention to respond to the latest consultation document issued by the FSA on reforming polarisation. I have, sadly, concluded that there is no point. The tone and inference of the document demonstrate that the important decisions have already been made.
This is not so much a consultation document as a slap in the face for all of us who have tried over the past 13 years to reform an important service industry.
The Government decided some time ago that it wished to exercise control over the financial services world and has used its lapdog to do it.
Product providers are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of taking back distribution channel control through multi-ties, sorry, distributor firms.
The real losers are not the IFAs. Some will remain independent and adapt and restructure accordingly. Many will decide that the easier option is to give up their independence to continue to work on a commission basis.
The real losers will be the public. They will remain confused and be victims of a structure where advisers will pretend to be independent but won't be.
At a stroke, the FSA has set back financial services to the times when soft loans, high commission and sales conventions were all important and where the customer did not matter at all. The flawed and inadequate research masquerading as strong reasons for this change only adds insult to injury.
The individuals behind this disgrace of a document should hang their heads in shame. They will not, of course. That would be too much to expect.
Nick Bamford Informed Choice,