Garry Heath: This is our chance to radically reform regulation


Libertatem is another month older, membership is coming in on target and we are receiving great messages of support. We expected nearly all of our members to be directly authorised but we have attracted a significant number of network members too. Meanwhile, the decision to combine restricted and independent has been vindicated, as many members appear to offer both services.

I have been having a number of exchanges with advisers and journalists who believe change can only come from the regulators. I am tempted to refer to this as Stockholm syndrome: perhaps a bit of an overstatement but you get my drift.

We need to reassert our position as the one part of the industry that is low risk and highly professional. We must start establishing principles rather than relying on sticking plaster solutions.

A reporter suggested last week that “policymakers need to resolve the mass market issue”. Wrong. That is our job. It is the policymaker’s job to facilitate it. That requires an injection of confidence in the sector, which is on its way. The removal of FCA chief Martin Wheatley, a Treasury select committee bent on reform and the Enterprise Bill gives us the opportunity to radically change regulation. We will face determined opposition from the vested interests but if we unite we will win.

If I had a membership form for every adviser who had expressed support, we would already have a very strong trade body ready to take on the challenge. Sadly, too many are still thinking like hostages rather than free men.

Garry Heath is director general at Libertatem