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End the online vitriol

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


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There are 14 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Peter J Chesworth 18th January 2011 at 9:08 am

    Robert might find the vitriol unpleasant but I find his own self righteous attitude towards those who may disagree with him on RDR more than a little tiresome.

  2. whens peoples backs are against the wall they tend to become more concentrated!!

    I’m alright jack articles like this don’t help, they just inflame the the situatiion!

  3. Robert – Policies should often but not always be written in trust BUT only by those qualified to do so.

    Remembering that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing I am concerned that the one size fits all level 4 exam will result in more policies being written in trust but not necessarily correctly.

    I do agree however that it is now too late to accept that level 3 is more than adequate for the majority who sell and that level 6 is the minimum for those who want to give complex advice. I have no doubt that this realization will be accepted at some future date.

  4. Spot on Robert.

  5. Excellent points Robert.
    Rushed, stressed and irrational vitriole simply damages the “brand” of financial advisers.
    As to grandfathering – would we want to stop regular competence testing on older airline pilots ?Where lives are at risk we take care to protect ourselves from incompetence. Why do less simply because its only wealth at risk ?

  6. A person who has little to say and likes others to hear their voice:

    ‘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.’

    Personally I am sick to death of people who ‘suspect’ or ‘think’ show me some hard facts.

    This sort of talk is what got us in this position.

    ‘Simple solutions can complicate’ but complicated solutions are complicated.

    What are you saying??

    More hot air from yet another person who wants to stick their oar in.

    Work on hard current facts, reality of today not bias that existed in the late 1990s all reports etc are out of the Ark like these people who comment on them, get up to date and lets see statistics and facts of today not previous decades.

    This is 2011

  7. I don’t always agree with things and there are one or two points in Robert’s article that I don’t understand. However, I agree with him 100% about the vitriol poured out on this and other forums by people who want to be called professionals. I normally finish reading these comments by reaching for the razor blades!!

  8. Yes, people need to calm down, think carefully about what they are going to say, stop posting anonymously and use a spellchecker. Otherwise all they will do is give the regulators the impression that education is required as a matter of urgency, even if said educashun won’t prevent people putting policies in badly written trusts because they have no legal qualifications!

  9. Robert makes some good points but some that need testing.

    I accept that some extra knowledge is obviously a positive but I wonder how relevant most of the questions we answer in exams happen in real life. Most of the work I do is simple investment and saving. I tend to use Unit Trusts, OEICS, Investment Trusts, and ETF’s inside and outside an ISA, and sometimes within a Bond wrapper.

    In short, my client bank is not complicated.

    Finally, grandfathering does not descriminate on age. I do not know grandfathers aged under 40, let alone 30! My point is that my thirty two years of working in our industry is worth much more than a thirty year old with two years experience. The youngsters amongst us need to validate their exams with some experience – I reckon twenty years should be about right. I use the same rule when choosing a Fund Manager. I wonder why?

  10. The point on Grandfathering is that ALL people who are currectly regarded by the SFA (oops) as competent, fit and proper should continue so to be, including the 28 year olds who’ve passed exams but have little experience.

    It isn’t right to make people re-take exams, simply because the syllabus has changed and no other profession does it. That is what structured CPD is for.

    My qualified staff ask me for advice every day. I have only (?) FPC 3, (and 43 years’ financial services experience).

    I’m not going to advise on something where I don’t feel competent; never have done.

    I have only one client who prefers to pay a fee, and I’ve given that choice to clients routinely for more than 15 years. my clients deserve a choice: RDR takes that choice away.

    RDR is a disgrace and is only there because the FSA Bored (oops again) didn’t have the guts to back down when they should have.

  11. Well said, Robert. Let’s face it, the vitriol on these blogs comes from poorly qualified morons who struggle to string together a coherent sentence. Thankfully, time is ticking on and we won’t have to put up with their banal chatter for much longer. Roll on RDR is all I can say!

  12. Do I assume all those that complain about spelling and grammer have level 4 in spelling and typing. Get a life especially those who are frightened to put their names to things other than Mr. Anon. Mouse

  13. Terry – Do I assume you mean grammar…..?
    You’re right about people being frightened to put their names to things too. Just as well you put ‘terry’ so we are all in the know…..

  14. Waz.

    Glad you spotted my deliberate mistake. Have a good weekend. Terry A

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