In 2006 I started my business using my own savings. For several years I didn’t take any drawings until I had made sufficient profit. I charged fees in exchange for knowledge and time. We dealt only with people prepared to pay us, and took no money from providers or anyone else. The only people contributing to our bottom line were fee-paying clients.
And yet, all anyone else has ever done is take.
Which is why I am vehemently opposed to Chancellor George Osborne’s free pension guidance. It isn’t free to me, and by extension it isn’t free to my clients. I am also opposed to the FCA’s view that firms like mine should pay any share (let alone the lion’s share) of the costs of providing guidance.
Why? Because the people who will use the service have never contributed to my bottom line, paid my staff, or funded my client’s advice, and they never will. It is the same thing with the Money Advice Service. I am in business to serve my clients and make a profit. I am not a charity and I am not Robin Hood taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
Every time government or the regulator decides they want the industry to fund their latest project I suffer, as do my clients and staff, because there is less money in the kitty. This seemingly bottomless pit of money from which they continually draw is running dry. Forget Robin Hood, they are more Dick Turpin – it’s highway robbery.
If Osborne believes strongly that everyone should have access to guidance, then everyone should pay for it through taxation, in the same way we pay for other things that benefit everyone, like healthcare and education. Singling out the financial services sector is grossly unfair. If we are supposedly “all in this together” (and I bet they wished they hadn’t said that) then prove it, because right now every Tom, Dick and Harriett will be dipping into my bank account to help pay for their free guidance. And that is wrong.
Dennis Hall is managing director at Yellowtail Financial Planning