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‘Don’t put RDR on backburner’

Lord Adair Turner may shift the FSA’s focus away from the retail distribution review and on to the security of the banking system and liquidity issues when he becomes chairman next month, warns Axa.

Steve Folkard, who is head of pensions and saving policy at Axa and Winterthur Wealth Management, says he is concerned that the regulator’s priorities may change and the RDR will become a second-tier issue.

He says: “The purpose of the RDR is to encourage consumers to take up advice but now is not a good time to launch services to consumers who are more worried about their standard of living. That should not stop changes to professionalism and advice in financial services.”

Folkard believes the RDR will bring about a profess- ional standards board, higher qualifications and consumer-agreed remuneration but will struggle to implement an advice/sales split. He also has doubts about an assisted purchase or sales with persuasion channel where the adviser takes full liability for advice.

He says: “It would need to be structured so advisers follow a process and have limited liability and consumers recognise that they are not receiving full advice and have some liability for their decisions.”

Folkard believes it will be difficult for advisers to operate this type of model as a strand of their business as they will have to cross-subsidise the advice to people who do not buy a product.

Philip J Milton and Company managing director Philip Milton says delaying the RDR might be appropriate in view of the financial outlook.

He says: “People want financial advice but people are not investing in sensible investments, they are putting their money into building societies. This is not a good time to make life harder for advisers and a lot will go out of business in the next few years anyway.”

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