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Flying lesson

Some of my extended family often remark that they envy me as I travel regularly in Europe and North America. Any of you who frequent airports regularly will understand me when I state that air travel is far from fun most of the time.

Recently, I had a late afternoon speaking engagement in Edinburgh. I headed for the 1pm flight, only to find that it was delayed by one hour. As the plane arrived in Edinburgh, we found out that leaving the plane was impossible as there was a bomb scare in progress in the terminal building. That left us on the plane for over three hours. It is times like these that the grumpy old man is never far away.

So, great plans can still go wrong, no matter how much you plan or perhaps my assumptions were not as reasonable as I first thought.

Planning is a bit like relationships. If everyone does what you expect, then all is well. Inevitably, people don’t – and that is the rub.

Now that the final format is set for implementation of the retail distribution review, all that remains is for the talking and, in some cases, the whingeing to stop and the planning and action to start.

They sometimes say that everything seems to happen at once. Well, in 2012, we have the Olympics and the introduction of auto-enrolment. If that is not enough, we also have RDR being implemented.

For many, the RDR was just another discussion that they ignored and would eventually go away. I am equally sure that there are some who believe a change of Government will halt all this in its tracks.

We need to ensure that as many as possible pass the diploma and that they also keep going. Let’s not make the mistake that exams are a one-off. If we seek to build a profession, ongoing testing is essential.

We also need to make sure that the value of advice is reinforced at every opportunity. By doing so, the transition to transparent charging will be far smoother. We need to put in place a programme of education for all our staff, not just those in customer-facing roles, and our clients as well.

I could not finish without a bit on the idea that the industry should pay the costs of educating people to the point where they realise they need neither us nor any financial products.

So, if like me you are focusing on a particular demographic group and income/capital level, you will be funding the education of people who are unlikely to ever become clients. This must be the most half-brained idea to emanate yet from this government and is unlikely to see the light of day.

We must collectively reject this idea. We cannot allow a rerun of the silent movie called stakeholder, where the ABI capitulated and decapitalised the major insurers in the process.

The day effectively finished with me arriving in the arrivals hall, then taking the escalator to departures through security and back with the crew who brought me up some five hours previously and ended with me getting home at midnight. Travel is glamorous? Don’t say that in my presence.


Certification guide

Guide: how to… certify your pension scheme

Certification is highly complex and surrounded by a minefield of information and auto-enrolment jargon, which can make it very difficult to understand. However, for many employers it is a necessary process that must be executed successfully.


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