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FSA must treat disabled IFAs fairly

The editor’s comment of the week

There are a multitude of groups offering exams and non-exam assessment routes. My purpose for writing is that due to my medical condition, I am advised by my oncologist that exams are stressful and could hasten my demise.

I served in the Royal Navy for eight and a half years and was exposed to asbestos. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, which means guaranteed death. There is no cure and average life span is one year, although some have lived for more than three years, including myself. A positive mental attitude, special diet, exercise and involvement in the work I love as an IFA helps me.

I have 40 years’ experience with no complaints and some wonderful clients. Because I wish to continue, I wrote to the FSA a year ago for dispensation. I am classified 100 per cent disabled by the Veterans Agency. The FSA wrote back and advised me to wait a year and contact again via email. I sent an email setting out my condition with the backing of the compliance director of my network and I received a reply on March 10 from the FSA Customer Contact Centre advising me to take the exam and including a list of the various exam bodies. It was apparent to me this was a stock letter.

Is the FSA prepared to consider the cases of experienced IFAs who are classified disabled?

I am not seeking pity but am requesting consideration for myself and perhaps any other disabled IFA – there will not be many of us. I should like to know that at the end of 2012, assuming I am here, that I will not suddenly be without a job and unable to do the thing I love doing due to this unfair discrimination.

Mr Sants can have all the medical evidence if he wishes and perhaps a face-to-face meeting on behalf of the disabled members of the profession.

Financial planning consultant Lighthouse Financial Advice


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The stock reply from from the FSA Customer Contact Centre advising Mr Lindsell to take the exams and including a list of the various exam bodies pretty much says it all.

    Mr Lindsell, along with thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of others of good character and good record are blithely regarded by the FSA as acceptable casualities of the war of the RDR ~ a war, as far as the FSA is concerned, to be won no matter what the costs.

  2. It is not just disabled IFa’s who need to be treated fairly, although I have every sympathy with them.
    Many older IFAs are the main carers for elderly parents and spouses who have a debilitating illness.
    They can just about manage at present but any additional stress could well be the straw that breaks the camels back.
    When fsa staff are required to undergo training, it is all expenses paid with someone else covering their workload. Add to that a generous sick pay package and you can see why they do not understand small business and the effects of burdensome regulation.
    The fsa, whilst requiring advisers to tcf, carry out their own remit in a contrary fashion.
    Am I wrong or are the fsa the most hated regulator that ever existed?


    I have recently sent this letter to Hector Sants.

    Ageism is illegal in employment, training and education. The Equality Bill comes into force in 2012, making ageism unlawful in the provision of products and services where it has negative or harmful consequences. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) Retail Distribution Review (RDR) Level 4 Requirement threatens the livelihood of circa 20/30% of Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) resulting in a negative & harmful consequences not only for those advisers but also to their soon to orphaned clients (consumers).

    RDR Level 4 could be construed as “Indirect discrimination”, under The Equality Bill which means having a policy or practice such as the Retail Distribution Review Level 4 requirement together with a refusal to allow grandfathering which places people (financial advisers) of a certain age group at a disadvantage compared with other people.

    Recent study reveals that mental faculties starts to decline in later life. Therefore to apply a degree level 4 learning requirement to and industry whose average age is 54 (and to not permit grandfathering) could contravene age discrimination laws.

    Other examples are given by this legislation such as a firm introduces a fitness test which all employees are required to pass. This could be indirect discrimination if fewer older employees are likely to be able to pass the test. Both direct and indirect discrimination are unlawful unless the discrimination can be justified.

    RDR and old age
    James Hay Wrap research shows: Average age of IFAs estimated at 54(1)
    1This is based on industry sources. The FSA’s “Financial risk outlook 2007” estimated the average IFA age as 46. James Hay go on to say: Our own contacts with industry sources that put the average ages at 54, 55, 56, and 58 years


    Has the FSA taken legal opinion as to the compatibility of the Retail Distribution Review Level 4 Requalification Requirement with The Equality Bill which comes into force in 2012?



  4. So what you’re saying is ‘lets fight ageism, by treating older people differently from younger ones’ even though you have helpfully pointed out that it is illegal to do such?

    Okkkkk then.

  5. jonny c
    you deliberately miss the point simon is making.
    It is illegal or will be, to apply direct or indirect discrimination against older people.
    Having to pass exams at 55 or 60 plus may be indirect discrimination, as a lot of the exam content will depend on what you can remember, not necessarily what you need to know to do your job
    If you introduced a physical fitness test for all employees, it would not be fair to expect the older generation to have the same level of fitness as the younger generation. Allowances would have to be made.Otherwise you would be accused, and rightly so, of discrimination against a segment of your workforce.
    By the same token you would not expect a newly qualified trainee to have the same knowledge as an experienced worker, that too would be discriminating.
    It works both ways.

  6. Osama bin Laid Off 9th May 2011 at 11:42 am

    The FSA and the FSMA 2000 is anti Islamic!

  7. @jonny c | 13 Apr 2011 4:19 pm 9th May 2011 at 11:47 am

    To Jonny C

    Grandfathering is universally accepted as the best way forward in order to deal with such issues. Just go look how the NHS applied degree level qualification to “NEW” nurses but not “EXISTING” nurses. The FSA is not above the law and we expect them to fall within both moral and legislative requirements.

    Not Okkkkkk then!

  8. I am APPALLED at the FSA’s letter to Cliff. I wonder if Cliff could talk to a lawyer about a claim/dispensation under the Disability Discrimination Act.
    Choking with disgust….

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