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Generic election

I am a fairly political animal. Or at least I was, my politics have become somewhat dulled in the past 20 years or so, prey to repeated disappointments and broken promises.

Plus, there is something disconcerting about candidates half your age coming to knock on your front door and lecturing you on why you should vote for them. Most of them don’t remember the ERM debacle in 1992, never mind the October 1987 stockmarket crash.

Which may help explain why – for the first time ever in more than 30 years – I feel thoroughly unenthused by the general election contest taking place.

My problem is this – does anyone seriously believe that any party winning the next election will make a significant difference to the way the country is run? Or, perhaps more important to some, to the way IFAs do their business?

All the parties are preparing to make serious cuts in public spending. Labour do not like to talk about it as much and they claim to be able to “ringfence” essential services such as health and education. The Tories may seem more gung-ho but the public sector is facing a decade of famine whoever gets in.

A similar situation applies to tax. Does anyone seriously believe that – National Insurance apart – the Tories will undo any of the higher taxes that Labour sneakily introduced? Again, if nice Mr Cameron gets in, we can be sure George Osborne will tell us that, while regrettable and all Alistair Darling’s fault, taxes must remain high to bring the deficit down.

As for the NI rises being “a tax on jobs”, as some allege, come on, if any employer were to base a decision on hiring solely on the fact that the firm might end up having to fork out another couple of hundred quid a year to take someone on, you would think they were mad. The key calculation, surely, is based on whether that extra employee can add substantial value, to the tune of many thousands of pounds a year, to the business.

What of industry issues? The Tories are promising to significantly redefine the way the FSA works and pass some of its prudential regulatory powers back to the Bank of England. But again, that has virtually no bearing on any of the core regulatory requirements faced by IFAs.

Neither is there any suggestion the burden of regulation – in terms of costs or intrusion and bureaucracy – will be lighter for IFAs if the Tories are elected.

The retail distribution review is now a given, with little, if any, last-minute tweaking. Lobbying against any of its key measures is highly unlikely to bring any real results.

Nest will also almost certainly see the light of day despite serious initial reservations from the Conservatives, if only because they do not have any immediate alternatives.

What about savings schemes? We have heard interesting ideas from the Conservatives, some of which I praised in earlier columns here in Money Marketing. But I also remember traipsing round the rubber chicken circuit back in the 1990s, as Alistair Darling gave suitably vague speeches to financial services audiences telling them how wonderful his new “Isas” were going to be.

The only major savings proposal I have seen coming out of Conservative Central Office is scrapping payments into child trust funds for most families. Now that is not a good move but it is not a tragedy either.

Overall, I cannot see any major difference between the two main parties this time round, both in terms of their wider policies and their interaction with financial services.

Am I missing something? I am happy for you to tell me if I am.

On a completely separate note, a number of comments have flowed in following my comment over Easter to the effect that the days of small IFAs may be numbered in the wake of the RDR.

A week or so ago, my mother-in-law died. Her partner chose the village undertaker to arrange the funeral. Having seen at first hand how funeral service providers work in a normal-sized town, I was not expecting anything much.

Essentially, this is a husband-and-wife operation based in a private house, with the “chapel of rest” taking up a slice of the downstairs living area. Yet the service has been astounding. The place is spotless, yet homely. The attention to detail was incredible and highly individualised.

The price was very reasonable and the sympathy seemed genuine. When we went to view the body – on a Sunday afternoon – the lady opened the door in her jeans, brought us mugs of coffee and chatted with the family.

Finally, much to my amazement, I discovered this little village firm is part of Co-op Funeralcare and can call on it for anything it needs. Food for thought?

Nic Cicutti can be contacted at


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There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. From the Nic Cicutti appreciation society.

    Keep it up Nic.

    Politics is indeed bust, as bust as a bust thing, as bust as the regulator. BUST, oops, sorry I shouted.

    It is frustrating to see all these politicians champing at the bit with blank expressions and no memory of previous broken promises made by their ‘party’ or the problems caused by previous regulatory upheaval.

    It has been estimated that the advice sector will face an extra £100 million burden if the Tories get their wicked way, why not double or treble that figure just for fun??

    The ever decreasing number of IFAs will have all the burdens and cost of the regulator placed upon their broad shoulders while all the anti-FS groups will have only one place to vent their spleens. Does that sound like fun?

    As far as funeral services are concerned the headstone should read: “Consumer Choice – RIP”.

  2. In answer to your question “will a new Goverment make a difference”, this is quite easy for me to answer. NO.

  3. There is no one out there inspire, the dramatic cuts proposed will be a catelist to a brand new wave of poverty and deprevation. How many people will care about financial planning when they can’t afford to eat.

    This is the hash reality these jokers dont seem to appreciate. We as voters have the pretence of holding power but all we have is the choice between a rock, a hard place or a combination of rocks and hard places.

    Dispare for the country, dispare for our industry.

    Great Britain – RIP will be replaced by Britain* sponsered by powergen

  4. As far as the election is concerned it is my hope that Gordon’s bunch of mindless bureaucrats with their centralising “big brother” knows best attitude, will be replaced by a decentralised and less rules focussed Tory govt. The protectionist bureaucracy spawned by this lot affects every aspect of our society – not just financial services – so I am praying a Tory win will lead to this extra bureaucratic layer being “effeciencied” out and a freer and fairer society for us all as a result…

    As to the regulation of IFA’s I sincerely hope that the new govt has rather more important things to focus on; so sadly conclude that the shambles set in place by the FSA will continue, largely unchanged, under a new govt.

  5. Who is this Lewis Greene.Of course a change of government will make a difference.It will be for the worst,but it will make a difference

  6. Simon you are deluding yourself, torys are talking about doubling the regulation. please do your research before waffling on about a bright future

  7. Who cares, I shall have a glass of vino in my hand and be watching South Park …

  8. Nic, you are so patronising you could easily be an MP. Why not put yourself up for election.
    Why should you be so amazed at the superb service from a little village firm? The husband & wife team obviously live in the village.They presumably meet, on regular occasions, the people who have used their service to arrange funerals for loved ones.Of course they gave an excellent service.Their reputation is at stake.Apart from which, they probably pride themselves on being a small family firm who deals with grieving relatives the way they would like to be dealt with in the same circumstance.In future, if governments get their way, we will all have to go online or use tesco to arrange such matters.I know which way I would prefer to do things.Why can the great and the good, who are responsible for running this country, not accept that this too is how some people prefer to manage their financial affairs? Small should not be equated with less able or even less pofessional.

  9. Just a thought, un-regulate everything and let rip!!!!!! Why does the Goverment have to get involved in FS when they have never practiced as an Adviser or even have qualifications in this field…….

    Goverment is a waste of time, why not start an x-factor style show so the public can choose the next PM, Could be funny!!!! come on everyone needs a laugh……..

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