The new year sees many people set resolutions that are either impractical or doomed to fail. We now have less than two years before the RDR is put in place. By now, you will have gathered I do not belong to the group that believe it is not too late to defer or defeat the RDR.
Many suggest that simple solutions could make the RDR better. What they forget is those solutions can often complicate the situation, making matters worse.
Grandfathering is one such simple solution. Like it or not, we have significant anti-discrimination laws in the UK, mostly visited on us by the tag team of Harriet Harman and the EU. No one has been able to confirm to me just how and why a 57-year-old should avoid examination testing while a 30-year-old has no such latitude and why this is not age discrimination.
There has also been a distinct lack of debate about advisers who do not recognise the limit of their competence. This has been reflected by the number of people who have commented on what they see as an excessive amount of trust knowledge required for QCF level four. Yet 95 per cent of protection policies are not written in trust, because a) they do not need to be or b) the adviser did not even consider it. I suspect in too many cases it is because it slows down completion.
During the time I studied for CII exams, sometimes it educated me, sometimes it reminded me and, most important, it validated my knowledge and that is something we all need.
Now is the time to focus on our businesses and not just exams. Many see commission-based firms as those who need to worry most but I disagree. It is the fee-offset segment of advisers that have more to fear from the RDR. In many cases, their clients will have paid little in marginal costs and that will have conditioned them in a way that will not be helpful. From a practical perspective, what is the point of the client paying money to a provider, for you to then wait for the adviser charge to be paid? Would it not make more sense to ask for two cheques and get paid there and then?
Some will think the solution to all RDR issues is consolidation but, in any commercially orientated business, rationalisation generally follows consolidation. If you do not rationalise, then all you are doing is aggregating and you will ultimately have to identify the possible savings for a potential buyer of this collective if you are to achieve the promised price. Promises may be made, that is the easy bit, the skill is in the delivery.
Whatever our challenges are in 2011, we should be able to cordially debate with each other to educate, refresh or validate our knowledge. We should avoid the kind of vitriol endemic in the blogs last year. We might not agree but to lose control is to lose any argument with anyone who matters. Posting anonymously is understandable if you work for a faceless plc where the strategy is not of your making. Where that is not the case, it smacks of a lack of conviction, ironic given the misguided passion of some of the content.
Whatever you have resolved to start, stop or complete, I wish you the best for 2011.
Robert Reid is managing director of Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners