Paula Diggle, the Treasury civil servant credited with turning IFAs' lives upside down, is quitting as head of home financial services for an Inland Revenue role.
IFAs say Diggle was responsible for much of the detailed financial services policy under Labour to date, including moves to axe polarisation.
She dealt with the pension review for the Treasury and worked for former Treasury economic secretaries Helen Liddell and Patricia Hewitt when they blasted life offices and Garry Heath's IFA Association respectively over the pension review.
A House of Commons speech by Hewitt savaging the IFAA was widely seen as making Heath's position untenable.
In September 1999, Diggle called upon IFAs to offer free financial advice to the less well-off in a bid to improve their public reputation.
She was one of a triumvirate of civil servants from the Treasury, Department of Social Security and the Revenue who thrashed out the final details of stakeholder pensions.
Another speech by Diggle in 1999 gave the first indication that the Treasury saw problems with the inflexibility of tied agents on pensions, indicating that polarisation might have to go. At the same conference, she blamed the lack of transparency in life funds for creating the consumer confusion which contributed to misselling.
Lenders also say Diggle refused to consider including a fee for advisers in plans for Cat-standard mortgages. She was instrumental in the regulation of mortgages.
One of her pet projects, the Individual Pension Account, formerly the Pooled Pension Investment, has had a lukewarm response and no company plans to offer it directly to the public as yet.
At the Revenue, she is expected to work on the tax implications of the many financial services policies she has introduced.
Aifa director general Paul Smee says: “They say that a change is as good as a rest. Both Paula Diggle and the IFA community may well be echoing that sentiment today. I personally wish her well at the Revenue.”
IFA Syndaxi Financial Planning principal Robert Reid says: “It will be interesting to see whether the Treasury will have a constructive dialogue with the industry now that she has gone.”