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Dizzee days

Last week saw the long-feared RDR consultation paper make its appearance, the excellent annual protection review and, on a personal note, I succeeded Evan Owen as chairman of the IFA Defence Union. What’s more, the redoubtable Andy Milburn of Munich Re fame, christened me “Dizzee”, this in reference to East End rapper Dizzee Rascal and his recent chart-topper, “Bonkers”.

Andy tells everyone that I reckon everything is bonkers and he’s not far off the mark. More than half my life has been mired in financial services and I have seen enough madness to keep a stadium full of psychiatrists busy until the next RDR Olympiad. Sadly, much of the madness has emanated from regulators and politicians who, in the words of Jon Anderson, seek “perpetual change”.

The thing is, I am not alone. A swift search through the various financial blogs will quickly highlight the disaffection for the regulatory world in which we are held captive. I believe captive is an apt description because the Ombudsman can chase me well beyond 15 years, thereby ignoring the long stop – a protection afforded to all other non-financial services inhabitants by dint of the 1980 Limitation Act.

Last week also saw Nic Cicutti taking his obligatory snide dig at those advisers seeking restoration of the long stop. He disregards the support of numerous legal experts, plus overwhelming backing from the adviser sector, and believes the issue is redundant as it would only affect a few cases. Such an argument, if taken to its illogical conclusion, would legitimise all manner of wickedness. Why bother? It only affects a few of those guys, so what the hell.

Lest he forgets, or in case he doesn’t realise or even care, advisers waste millions of pounds in FOS fees for cases that would have been rejected at outset had the long-stop defence been accepted. Let us also remind ourselves that in ignoring the long-stop provision, the FSA, which set out the dispute resolution rules, is breaking the law. They do not have the power to override statute and as the Limitation Act has not been repealed, their actions are blatantly unlawful.

Surprisingly, the RDR consultation paper has returned us to the familiar old world of polarisation, of a sort. This, some 37 months after Dan Waters stated: “The removal of polarisation restrictions allows market participants to create innovative business models that respond to current market challenges and the needs of their customer base.”

Now Andy, that is bonkers because it should never have been removed in the first place. Searching for that mythical financial nirvana is no less futile than seeking Eldorado – neither exists.

What else is bonkers? The RDR warns that investment advisers might move across to protection to continue their wicked commission-hungry ways. As a wicked commission-hungry protection salesman I find this viewpoint absolutely bonkers. Surely, the FSA should be encouraging all advisers to ensure their clients are fully insured. As Dizzee says: “Stop dat.”


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