The curious thing about the RDR is the context of the industry as a whole. Forgive me for thinking with a partisan view but the last time I looked, there was still a massive demand for advice of all shapes and sizes for every man, woman and child in the country.
What there is not, however, is supply from overseas advisers who think they can do a better job for less money. So why is there a concerted effort to try to restrict advice to those who can afford it?
Say what you like about the “good old days” but there was a certain harmony about the obvious cross-subsidy of advice costs that went on. Fair or not, most people quite liked it. Why are the lives of countless advisers being made miserable when they are desperately needed to satisfy demand? And where does the Money Advice Service fit into all this?
It is tempting at times like this to write out 100 times: “Please leave us alone to get on with things, we will find our own place in the world without you trying to do it for us.” I will try to put it more eloquently. Far from preventing abuses, complexity creates loopholes that the shrewd can abuse with impunity. Is that any clearer?
The FSA and other policymakers need to step back and count their blessings and appreciate what they have.
They need to make lives simpler and easier for the people who generate billions in revenue for this country and maybe at last start to address the dramatic problem of the savings shortfall.
Exam burden is a further issue that is causing stress. I had to double-take a while ago when I read it was feared that up to a half of advisers would simply throw in the towel and retire come January 1, 2013. Is this completely necessary, do we think?
Even though Thameside is well placed on this front, the best way to have done this was to raise standards from the bottom up. It would have been slower, I grant you, but fairer.
All that is going to be achieved is a dearth of advisers and a further fall in savings and cover. Nothing has really been achieved, not least of all a raising of ethics and morals.
I can already hear the howls of protest from “RDR-ready” advisers but that is a bit like rich people asking us all to go green, do some charity work and give money to the poor. This is fine if you have lots of spare cash but for most, it is simply not practical.
Tom Kean is director of Thameside Wealth Management