So the FSA is hitting the road, travelling the country to “meet and greet” as many IFAs as it can muster to convince the advising community that it is easy to do business with.
The charm offensive starts down in sunny Gloucester in two weeks time,must be seen as a welcome move by the regulator. Hopefully, the FSA will not be stepping in any puddles right to its middle. Indeed, anything which will help to dispel the (rather justifiable) image of an ivory-tower-dwelling body with little concept of the reality of the marketplace has to be a good thing.
IFAs should embrace the opportunity to help the FSA understand their businesses more comprehensively.
They should not view with suspicion the fact that the regulator plans to visit their neighbourhood but look upon it as a chance to prove they are struggling to do a good job for their clients against what at times must feel like rather mountainous opposition.
To further its bid to be seen as a more local presence instead of exclusively residing in Canary Wharf, E14, the FSA is also considering setting up regional offices in Manchester, Birmingham,Bristol and Leeds.
This would not be outsourcing (a concept many life insurers have employed of late) but rather establishing regional presences so those not trading in the South-east would have a better opportunity to interact with those determining how they do business.
This too would be a welcome development but the size of the attached price tag must be considered. If the trade-off of having a more understanding regulator is facing significantly higher regulatory fees, one wonders how many IFAs will welcome their new neighbours after all.