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Get a sense of reality

It’s not often I invite IFAs to skewer me in public but any readers of this column that will be attending Aifa’s annual dinner in London next week might see me wandering around.

I will be a guest of BPP Learning Media, which recently launched a case study retail distribution review qualification with Aifa. So feel free to come and say hello, or worse. It will be interesting to hear people’s views, as well as those of the Aifa, with regard to the RDR. One of those who I suspect won’t be making any speeches yet, sadly, is Stephen Gay, incoming director general at Aifa.

This week it was reported that Gay will officially be taking up his new post on December 1. He told Money Marketing: “Members need the assertive representation they receive from Aifa, AMI and AFB. I am keen to build on this and ensure the interests of members are recognised where it counts.”

The word assertive fills me with gloom. In recent weeks, Aifa has been coming out with increasingly bizarre comments, including the suggestion that IFAs are like shopkeepers and product providers should be paying them to distribute their products.

In the past few days, I have received a number of emails, including several from senior Aifa members, that disagree with this analysis. One of them told me last week: “My clients get the products for free – what they pay for is the advice. Whether they buy anything thereafter is irrelevant, they still pay.”

Another said: “I am bemused by Aifa’s stance as I have never thought any professional IFA/financial planner had a stock of products to sell. We only sell our expertise, like other professionals. If we need a new product, we get it from a manufacturer (generally via the internet) at cost price and pass it on at that price.

“If IFAs think of themselves as shop-keepers they should be quite pleased that Mark Hoban recognises they are as well qualified as a McDonald’s supervisor – they are indeed among their peers. Nothing wrong with that but it is not a professional service.”

Some advisers have suggested that Aifa’s latest pronouncement has been urged on it by its close ties with IFA networks, whose current business model will clearly be affected by the RDR.

It is an interesting theory. My own worry is that it is also indicative of intellectual drift at Aifa and an attempt to revisit the battleground of the early 1990s rather than deal with post-2012 realities.

What is really needed is an incoming trade association boss to spell out a few harsh truths to his members – and some of his staff. As PFS chief executive Fay Goddard pointed out last week, hoping that any of the RDR proposals will be watered down ahead of 2012 is likely to end in bitter disappointment for many. Far better to prepare for the future and make the support you will provide to those who begin to engage in the process your core message to members.

Ironically, Aifa is actually taking steps to do that. The new Diploma in Investment Planning, available through BPP Learning Media, allows advisers to gain a qualification that exceeds the minimum level four requirements stipulated within the RDR, without the need to undertake gap-filling CPD. These case study-based assessments still involve a series of examinations but reflect much more fully the daily work of an adviser.

To outside observers, a strong emphasis on this side of Aifa’s work would not only be highly practical but would also demonstrate the trade body’s new commitment to professionalism.

Instead, what we see are forlorn attempts by Aifa to stop the RDR clock. Only last week, another article in Money Marketing saw Aifa’s policy director Andrew Strange facing both ways. After spelling out precisely some of the points I have been making here, he still felt the need to call for “an appropriate, pragmatic transitional period, without cliff-edge dates, for competence to be evidenced through vocational routes rather than examinations”.

Not only is that not going to happen but, more worryingly, what this and Stephen Gay’s comments seem to suggest is there will be a balancing act between the militant tendency and more realist wings of the IFA community, with a public lean towards the former.

Like its 1980s counterpart, the IFA militant tendency’s views are forged on mistrust and suspicion. Its members regard any pronouncement by the FSA and other official bodies as an attack on their very right to exist.

By contrast, the realist tendency has a more sensible long-term appreciation of where Aifa and its own profession should be headed in the coming years. For their views to be ignored or downplayed in the hope of keeping the militants onboard is a tactical mistake. I would much rather lose the loonies than the realists.

Nic Cicutti can be contacted on


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There are 61 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Will he bring balance to AIFA?

    Will he remove the dead wood?

    Hope so.

    As for Nic, can’t see much balance here in his weekly wotsit, such a pity.

  2. Nic has always been off balance Evan.
    You can get treatment for that nic.
    Not sure why he is worried about AIFA’s stance, they do not appear to have one, except to agree with whoever it is they are dealing with at the time.

  3. Nice advertorial Nic. How much are BPP paying these days?

    As one of the many IFAs who disagrees with some aspects of the RDR I object to being referred to as a “loony” – particularly from a guttersnipe like you.

  4. Peter J Chesworth 11th November 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Yes to greater professionalism. No to rip off products. Will the RDR achieve either of these aims? Extemely unlikely,

    The financial advice market was evolving, professionalism was increasing. If the FSA had supported evolution we would be a lot further forward than we are now. Enough resources dedicated to TCF would have result in a huge changes in the industry, provided it is applied fairly accross the spectrum including banks and providers. With a properly targeted and developing TCF regime there would be no need for RDR.

  5. Just had a look on AIFA’s website to try and get to the bottom of what their stance is on the RDR. Went to ‘Current Issues’ ‘RDR’ and the latest update was dated 7th May 2009. Way to go AIFA (not).

  6. What a silly comment Nic, stop and think before puitting your fingers to the keyboard.

    A client gets a product from any adviser and there is no distribution cost involved at all?

    PI Insurance is only for advice not for misselling anything?

    The compensation scheme only makes payments for incorrect advice never for product failure?

    Just taking PI Insurance and the compensation scheme cost these are adviser expenses which are passed on to the client, I think your RDR chums like to have transparency end at the point of their choosing.

    Think again.

  7. Nic, check out your OED on guttersnipe. While you are there check out coward.

  8. @Simon Kershaw. Someone recently asked me what it is that gets me riled about my ongoing “banter” with IFAs. I was happy to tell him that I can take almost anything on the chin, even personal insults. If you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it and my overall response to the many hundreds of comments about my column, some of them quite abusive, bears out that I generally do so with good grace, albeit I am always likely to remain argumentative.

    In fact, I wasn’t trelling the entire truth. If there is one thing that does make me stratospherically angry – so angry that if you were in front of me as I write this I might find myself “doing a Joey Barton” on you – it is any suggestion, even the remotest hint of a suggestion, that I would ever write about a company for financial reward. By all means engage with me in terms of an argument, but never suggest that I take bribes. That, at the end of a day, is what an undeclared advertorial is about.

    FYI, I am not being paid a penny for my comments – other than an invite to a typical mass-produced meal, usually involving some variant of luke-warm beef and potatoes, served haphazardly to several hundred people by a small fleet of underpaid foreign skivvies, with all its likely inherent “quality” issues.

    It will involve me travelling up to London entirely AT MY EXPENSE and staying in a hotel entirely AT MY EXPENSE, all so that I can hear what IFAs have to say about the RDR and their industry and then listen to someone drone on at the end of the meal, as they usually do (hopefully not in this case). Doing so will cost me several hundred quid of my time and money, so for you to imply my comments are about bribery is not just offensive but ignorant.

    Moreover, in the grand scheme of things, I can honestly say that my “paid-for” meal next week – which will cost me many times its true value – counts for nothing, zilch, nada, niente, zip alongside the wide range of commission-based kickbacks, foreign holidays, free meals, golf trips and other financial bribes enjoyed by the vast majority of IFAs I have encountered over the past 20 years, including – quite possibly – yourself.

    Before you even dare for one nano-second accuse me of accepting bribes take a long hard look at yourself and your chums in this industry. Then, if you have the remotest shred of decency whatsoever, which I doubt, apologise.

  9. What has AIFA cost over the past five years and what has it actually achieved? It never tells us. Does anyone know?

    I’ve recently started receiving e-mail bulletins from AIFA but all my efforts to log in to their website with the details given to me by AIFA are in vain. I reply to these bulletins pointing this out but never receive a response.

    But still the consultations, the lobbying, the meetings, the (vain) efforts to “engage constructively with the FSA” continue. For what? What ‘s it all achieving? Not a lot as far as I can see. It’s just a bunch of men in suits waving a flag.

  10. Good Grace? you are having a laugh nic.
    You can dish it out but the truth is you cannot take it, otherwise you would not find the need to constantly have a jibe, like the one you just had above.

  11. Nic,

    For 20 years or so I have read your comments on my profession. For most of them it has simply been a reason to throw a pink journal ineffectually against the nearest wall/person/. In recent time I have been able to vent such spleen by posting on the interweb version of said pink.

    You get off on provoking IFAs like me. If my tongue in cheek poke at you got you rattled then I am delighted. I do not care which troughs you feed in – if any. You may be the most virtuous journalist who has ever lived but, when you pour weekly vitriol on my profession, and, by association, me, you lay yourself open to counter attack.

    For the record I do not think you to be venal, bribe taking or corrupt. I do know that you effect censorship, which I would have thought anathema to a journalist.

    I will be in London on the 17th. If you fancy a scrap – or a pint – let me know.

  12. Simon (and the “brave” anonymous commenter that followed you): I stand entirely by my statement that robust as my own comments often are, I generally take my fair share of personal abuse on this website without complaint. That’s par for the course and if you doubt what I’m saying, go back and check all my columns on here and the comments that follow.

    However, there is “counter-attack” and there are accusations of dishonesty. What should never be in question is my honesty. And I believe you have impuned that with your remarks, which you have only half-heartedly now withdrawn. As for your bizarre allegation of censorship on my part, I don’t really know how to answer that other than to say that everyone in civil society is required either legally or morally to censor oneself in some way at some point. So in addition to not having the faintest clue what you are talking about in terms of specifics, your more general point is completely trite.

    I will be heading back to my place in the sticks as quickly as I can the morning after the Aifa dinner, as I have work to do, so I won’t be able to meet you. Which is just as well, as, given your inability to understand how ill-judged and slanderous your comment was means I wouldn’t even want to share a cup of my own spit with you let alone a pint of it.

  13. Nic,

    My original post on this thread was first blocked and then censored. Blocking is not unusual on MM but changing wording of authored post is. I would define this as censorship.

    Look up guttersnipe on wikipedia.

  14. Nic,

    While you are about it
    check out the spelling of impugned.

  15. Simon, I was a typo, sorry, I spotted it as soon as it went live on the site but there’s nothing I can do to correct it now. However, if that’s the worst you can find to critizise me for then I don’t really have much to worry about.

    I note, again, that you aren’t man enough to apologise for slandering someone, preferring instead to falsely accuse them of censoring you – when, as the editor of Money Marketing makes clear, the decision to edit your comment had nothing whatsoever to do with me. No apology there either but that, as has become increasingly evident, is you all over.

  16. Nic,

    As I stand corrected by your Editor I unreservedly withdraw any allegation that you may have personally censored my posting.

    Apparently referring to a large number of professional people as “loonies” is a perfectly valid journalistic phrase.

  17. Nic

    Calm down and in future try to be a little more.. er… what is the word? Ah yes, balanced.

  18. An article which includes words or phrases such as “IFA militant tendency” and “loonies” and attaches such descriptions, without qualification, to all of those who are interested in whether RDR is fit for purpose and who seek to question it, is in itself calling into question the honesty and integrity of such individuals.

    A point which I suspect may have escaped you, Nic, and is very worthy of your consideration imho.

    May I remind you of something you said on the 23rd July this year.

    “What I’m hearing is that, yes, the regulator’s internal discussions recognise the RDR proposals will affect the number of consumers able to obtain independent financial advice in future. We all know why that might happen, so I won’t discuss it here.”

    Is it in any way suitable to describe as “loony” those who have genuine concerns that RDR will, if unchallenged, diminish the consumer’s ability to obtain independent financial advice?

    That article also included these extracts:

    “Lansons director of regulatory consulting Richard Hobbs told a conference in London the FSA “considered scrapping the RDR at a board meeting in March but decided to push on with plans for fear of losing face”.”

    “Hobbs claimed: “I have to say, it only just survived an executive committee meeting in March at the FSA. The FSA are not particularly proud of the RDR but it is a question of losing face, so I think they will carry on.”

    I don’t know this, but I suspect the more recent interest of MPs in the subject of the RDR has as much, if not more, to do with the consumer interests I mention above as it does to the future of IFAs, and even were my suspicions wrong, the two are undoubtedly connected, and negatively, not positively, affected by RDR.

    The dire economic circumstances we all find ourselves in at present, and for the forseeable future had many causes, but it cannot have escaped your notice that there was a complete failure of effective regulatory process.

    Is it therefore in any way “loony” to question and challenge those whose failure is a matter of record, and whose failure is now simply left for everyone else to foot the bill?

    Or is it with the very sense of reality that you claim to seek that they should be challenged every step of the way, to attempt to ensure that what follows is not a repeat of the past?

    RDR proposals which do not enhance, but quite openly and deliberately diminish the abilities of the consumer to obtain independent financial advice should be challenged, and alternatives found – not least because it is the very failures of the regulators who have left us with an economic mess which has increased the need for just such advice.

  19. Nic, It wasn’t that long ago that in response to a reasonably worded e-mail from a fellow IFA you responded by saying how nice is was to hear from the pond-life end of the adviser community.

    I am sure you understand why you are about as popular as Mark Hoban.

    Threatening violence on another poster is also an interesting response. Someone might just take you up on your macho challenge.

  20. Oh, this is EXCELLENT stuff!

    Haye vs Harrison? Forget it! It’s Kershaw vs Cicutti the world wants to see. Come on, Money Marketing – make it happen!

  21. There is nothing like a good piece of journalism- and this is nothing like a good piece of journalism.

  22. To Messrs Lakey, Kershaw, Fenwick, Owen et al: there is a clear difference between a reference to a COLLECTIVE group of people, perhaps running to several hundred people or even many more, as “loonies”, without naming any one individual as such, and an explicit accusation of dishonesty aimed at one INDIVIDUAL , which is what Simon Kershaw has done in my case.

    As I have repeatedly made clear, I have no problem to being called almost anything you like – even, ironically, a “loony” or “pond life” (you really ought to publish the full correspondence in that email exchange rather than tease your readers like that, Alan) – as it is yet another of the many hundreds of personal insults I have received over the past 10 years that I have been writing a consumer column in the trade press. Water off a duck’s back.

    What I object to is the implication, specifically aimed at me, that I surreptitiously write advertorial copy for payment without editorial approval. That is one of the most serious allegations that you can make against a journalist.

    Ordinarily, I would be amazed by the fact that anyone would appear to be totally unable to understand the distinctions I have, yet again, been at great pains to point out.

    But in your collective case I’m somehow not surprised at all: your defence of a graceless refusal to apologise after having impugned someone’s personal integrity says more about you as individuals and as a group than any additional comment from me might.

    As for me being macho for admitting that I was spitting blood and felt close to violence when I read Simon Kershaw’s slanderous allegation, Alan you really ought to get out of your nursery a bit more: I suspect that 99% of people, including most IFAs reading this exchange would have felt exactly the same as I did on this issue, even those who don’t agree with me. If you doubt me, go down your local pub (it’s where they drink something called beer), go up to someone, call him a dishonest thief and see what he does.

    Oh, one last thing: Owen, YOU telling ME to be balanced really made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that.

  23. @ Paul McMillan – Editor.

    You will be aware that the Press Complaints Commission’s Editor’s Code of Conduct does not address issues of taste and decency – such issues are for you, as Editor, to decide.

    You will also be aware, I am sure, of the Equality Act 2010 which came into force on the 1st of October, aware of both the letter of that law and the spirit of that law, and both your responsibilities and those of Centaur Ltd in relation to it..

    I ask that you, as Editor, thoroughly review the content of the original article by Nic Cicutti, and equally thoroughly review the subsequent posts and comments from Nic Cicutti.

    I do not expect you to carry out that review, thoroughly, without it being in context with, and taking into account all the other comments and posts that were made, my own included, which, as is this post, was written by me in a personal capacity and not as has been alleged as part of any collective.

    In like manner this is a wholly personal request, namely I personally ask that you consider paying specific attention to the undernoted items.

    I wish you to consider – whether referred to on an individual basis or collectively – phrases such as “loonies” or ” the IFA militant tendency” fall within the standards of taste and decency that you personally deem acceptable, and are also acceptable to Centaur Ltd as the publishers of Money Marketing.

    I wish you to consider whether phrases such as ” … I might find myself “doing a Joey Barton” on you …” fall within the standards of taste and decency that you personally deem acceptable, and are also acceptable to Centaur Ltd as the publishers of Money Marketing.

    I wish you to consider whether phrases such as ” … alongside the wide range of commission-based kickbacks, foreign holidays, free meals, golf trips and other financial bribes enjoyed by the vast majority of IFAs …” fall within the standards of taste and decency that you personally deem acceptable, and are also acceptable to Centaur Ltd as the publishers of Money Marketing.

    I wish you to consider whether phrases such as ” … by a small fleet of underpaid foreign skivvies” fall within the standards of taste and decency that you personally deem acceptable, and are also acceptable to Centaur Ltd as the publishers of Money Marketing.

    I wish you to consider whether phrases such as ” … for admitting that I was spitting blood and felt close to violence …” fall within the standards of taste and decency that you personally deem acceptable, and are also acceptable to Centaur Ltd as the publishers of Money Marketing.

    I have deliberately restricted my requests to those of “taste and decency”, but as an Editor you will I trust realise that the issues involved range beyond those two criteria into the standards of journalism you as an Editor would wish your readership to see displayed.

    Will you carry out such a review?

  24. I am not sure that Nic would like the full text of our e-mail exchange publicised.

    As a reasoned argument it was found wanting. As a frothy tirade of ill-tempered sniping it was a real winner.

    If vituperation and crass invective were honoured then you might appear on the podium at the Headline Money Awards.

  25. Is all this mud slinging really necessary?

    I don’t agree with Mr Cicutti and certainly don’t think RDR is the best way forward. Proper CPD, regulated products with fees or set levels of commission would be my choice.

    Keep it simple and don’t regulate the advice it is too costly and virtually impossible to monitor effectively, but do monitor “all” sales and fees or commission changed as they occur, easily done via the internet without any client information being needed to see who has sold what etc.?

    Nothing too difficult with that in my view and it should certainly not cost the many £ Billions it has costs us all so far.

    Too complicated and too confusing by far and sadly getting worse. We need people to save and pay off debt and they need advice, not be forced to buy online without advice due to the high cost and complexity of seeking advice.

    Banks, insurers and large firms of advisers are unlikely to lose out post RDR but small firms will find it harder to survive due to the ever increasing regulatory and compensation costs.

    Hope I am wrong.

  26. Nic,

    Count up the number of column inches you have posted on here in defence your “professional integrity” and then review my original post – even with the censorship of one innoccuous word.

    I accused you of nothing. You felt impugned.

    There are a number of commercial providers of exams who would like a slice of the RDR pie. You drew attention to one in your article – with a subtle “no backfilling” plug. Advertorial?

    Unless you have become a member of the txting generation you should realise that no spoken word has passed. Slander,,, Libel,,,,

    Note to editor: this journalist displays low levels of grammatical and spelling skill, and also seems to display no elements of empathy with your target market. I find these things very disturbing.

  27. I have no idea why you hate IFAs so much Nic, but can only conclude that jealousy fits.

  28. I forgot to add that at the end of the e-mail exchange between Nic and another very honourable( IFA) he closed with the suggestion that the adviser find a few punters to flog some products to.

    This indicates the mindset which, sadly, seems out of place in an adviser supporting newspaper.

  29. Nic

    Only too happy to make you happy, we all need a laugh sometimes, much better for the soul than all this childish mud slinging.

  30. Nic

    Only just read this.

    Clearly, you are like my dog – in constant need of praise and patting on the head – theres a good boy !!.

    How tall are you ? Do you suffer from short man syndrome ? Or is it just that huge chip you have got on your shoulder.

    Offering a ‘tear up’ – thats brilliant, but really you begger belief. As far as your responses to a non-existent acusation, sometimes less is more old boy. You must really fancy yourself

  31. Dear oh dear boys,

    Alan, publish whatever you like, I honestly can’t be bothered. As for me being ticked off by you for suggesting someone go and flog a few products (“Shock!” “Horror!), again, publish the full exchange instead of teasing your readers. Please.

    Simon Kershaw, for someone who “accused me of nothing” you make a pretty good job of insinuating and repeating the same allegations. You really are a churl. FYI, the reasons I mentioned this particular project is that it was one that is specifically promoted by Aifa to its members, in the context of a column that refers to Aifa and that I will be at its anual dinner. The fact you don’t understand that makes me worry for your sanity – I’ve already given up worrying about your intelligence.

    Mike Fenwick: yours has to be the most ridiculous letter ever sent to an editor aboout one of his writers’ work. You really have no understanding of journalism whatsoever, do you? That said, you clearly do have a good grasp of how to twist my words out of context. Surely you can’t possibly be an IFA: I’d have put you down as an MP at least or quite possibly a government minister. If not, there’s certainly a career waiting there for you….

  32. Sorry, I’ve just seen Simon Kershaw’s suggestion that I hate for IFAs because I’m jealous of them. Either he’s on a different planet or the mobile number of his drug supplier ought to be passed on to the police….

  33. Hello. I’m not an IFA. I’m a consumer. However, if the above exchanges (and those I’ve seen elsewhere on these boards) are in any way reflective of the mindset and personality of your typical advisor, then you know what? I think I’ll sort my finances out myself in future.

    You’re all a bunch of schoolkids.

  34. Rob Hawes hit the nail on the head, in fact a former Skandia directors described IFAs as children.

    But then again, humans are crammed full of emotions and sometimes they fail to control them.

    I must remind Rob Hawes that only a small monority find the time to vent their spleen on here, the rest just get on with it.

    As far as Cicutti is concerned I used to be angered by his diatribe, today I feel sorry for him. Forgive him for he knows not what he does.

    Turn the other cheek Cicutti, and there really is no need to get so personal.
    Is there something missing in your life? Kids? A pet?

  35. Nic – get a grip and learn to count to 10 before hitting submit.

    Anyone writing to ANYONE in my companies name, no matter how unreasonable they may have been, would be dismissed.

    Is it time to resign?

  36. Sorry to disagree with you Simon.The hatred Nic displays towards IFA’s does not stem from jealousy, he just hates them.

  37. “Rob Hawes | 15 Nov 2010 2:18 pm”

    Spot on.

    If Joe Public were to see this exchange then they would quite rightly have serious concerns about the professionalism of the commentators.

    Come on chaps – you are all highly qualified, processional people (that includes Nic) and you should not reduce yourselves to this tirade of abuse.

    Have some respect for yourselves and your peers.


  38. I wonder if doctors have a professional publication that tells them that they are all slack-jawed incompetents that are in it for the money. I doubt it.

    What about solicitors? Does the Solicitors journal write that the legal profession are loonies that shouldn’t be let loose on the general public? No.

    I doubt that Accountancy Age calls accountants dimwits that are rubbish at sums.

    How much longer are IFA’s going to put up with this? Isn’t it time that MM treated us as professionals too and stopped employing commentators that appear to have some kind of grudge?

  39. PensionMan | 15 Nov 2010 4;31pm”

    “Have some respect for yourselves and your peers.”

    I couldn’t agree more – what could have been a balanced and sensible debate about some very legitimate statements made by Nic Cicutti has been turned into a very unedifying mud slinging contest.

    Sadly, instead of apologising for obviously causing offence to Mr Cicutti, Mr Kershaw sought to defend the indefensible and simply compunded the matter by attacking further – I wonder where Mr Cicutti gets his observations about militancy?

    Even sadder, instead of continuing a rational explanation of his position and feelings, Mr Cicutti has resorted to insults.

    If we can try to get back to the point, Mr Cicutti, quite correctly in my view, asserts that you cannot stop the RDR clock and shouldn’t stop the RDR clock, even if you could. Yes, RDR and its implementation has flaws but then so does any programme of this nature but surely there cannot be anybody who doesn’t agree that the aims of improving the professionalism and integrity of the industry is a laudible objective.

    I remember hearing similar comments around the time that the old statutory boards (Lautro, IMRO, FIMBRA etc..) were being disbanded. It turns out that the previous “flat earth theory” was wrong, just as the current anti RDR “flat earth theory” will also prove to be wrong.

    Times change and the demands of the industry change. A higher bar of achievement for academic qualifications and minimum standards of fee agreements are here to stay.

    Instead of insisting that the earth is flat the (perceived) militant wing should accept that the world is round (well, almost) and engage in a more relevant discussion such as, in exchange for full and transparent disclosure on fees and commissions, allowing the client to decide how fees and commission should be paid.

  40. Nic is not alone.

    I reckon over half of the rest of the industry who do not advise also hate advisers.

    I think it is like school teaching most of the population reckon they would be better at it than the teacher and most see themselves as experts as they have been to school themselves.

    Let us face it, we have allowed everyone to walk over us for years, we allow planks from the regulator to spout absolute rubbish and even some of us somehow agree with what they say as they intepret what was said a different way.

    We have everyone and anybody be an expert in our trade papers, we have IFAs who write articles who are barely out of their nappies and arent the class of the field, in fact often we could question their sanity.

    We do not have one quality organisation to represent us.

    Most of the public do not actually have a clue what the public are like to deal with and those that do seem to be drowned out by those who do not.

    No wonder we have the current bad press and hate league!!

    Nic is just another one of them, water off a ducks back to me!!

    If you want a job where people repsect you, they need to see the worst bit of the job and the good bits should be hidden, with this one they see the best bit and none of the bad elements.

    What £2k for just doing that? Job against the World!!

  41. Keep up the good work Nic, some people on here just log in to be offended. They need to get past the ‘woe is me’ mentality, stop feeling sorry for themselves, man up and get on with it.

    I for one think that this column is consistently the best thing in MM.

  42. Ron

    Are you a member of any “organisation”?

    Would any “organisation” be able to meet your obviously very exacting requirements?

    If not then this is worst aspect of advisers, they only want what they think is best for them, the consumer isn’t on their radar and journos like Cicutti get away with blue murder by exploiting this weakness.

  43. AlanB: There was no rational point referred to in Simon Kershaw’s original comment to me, simply a slander. So I had nothing to reply to. As I’ve said several times, I don’t mind being slagged off, it’s the questioning of my honesty that I’ll not let pass as it strikes to the heart of my integrity as a journalist.

    MrSmug: What have you been smoking?

    Anonymous: aside from the fact that you are using the anonymity some people argue is vital to prevent alleged victimisation at the hands of the FSA – but only to make a pathetic and trite observation instead (how brave is that?) – I don’t hate IFAs as a group, never have and indeed, I’ve made that point so many times I’m surprised people like you are still regurgitating the same old nonsense. It is true, however, that I dislike and hold in little regard a minority of IFAs who want to defend the indefensible. I described them as “loonies”.

    Actually, the term used by one of your peers – of “flat-earthers” – suits that minority more than my original description, for which my thanks. It’s worth noting, by the way, that while a handful of flat-earthers on here give vent to their spleen, I receive emails every week from other IFAs who may not always agree with the language I use but certainly agree in whole or in part with my analysis of the industry and are themselves trying to improve things. Indeed, my original column quoted IFAs who are a world apart from the flat-earthers who have been commenting on the way they feel their trade body is leading its members up the garden path.

    Tom Scott: my role as a columnist is to provoke and make people think and react, as others have noted many times before. And IFAs are not, despite what you may think, professionals in the same league as accountants or solicitors – and certainly not doctors.

    Evan: as always, you really are a wag. Quoting the Sermon on the Mount to your putative “followers” is a masterstroke. Bless you, my child…

  44. Unfortunately dealing with hundreds, thousands and millions of pounds of peoples money, giving advice and having people listen to it does tend to breed a certain amount of arrogance in people, which to do their job advisors need.

    This can come across in the way people have reacted to being called names, and the also the replies back from the journalist.

    As an ex BDM I’ve spoken to the whole range of Advisor and can tell you one thing, not one agrees with the other on how the RDR should be, how their careers should go and how they should be treated. The only thing most IFA’s agree with is that the FSA doesn’t work, is overly expensive and should be abolished.

    The worst thing is the hypocracy some advisers spout examples being: I don’t do bonds, I don’t do sipps, I only use wraps etc etc etc. I use *** as their products are good, oh and they are taking me out for a meal next week/on the boats/golf.

    There is only one simple way of working out if an adviser is doing a good job: ask their clients.

    It doens’t matter how many kickbacks, free perks or ‘bad’ products an adviser is using as long as their clients are happy, in reasonably suitable products and they have no complaints does it matter?

    If someone is cheating lying or fraudulent, then thats what we should be worried about, not that extra 0.2% growth a year because the adviser has done a 100 unit trust spread to cover all industries, sectors, and geographical probabilities and monitor that on a day by day basis…

  45. @ Paul McMillan – Editor

    @ David Cowan – Publisher

    If you refer to my first post, you will find this comment:

    “An article which includes words or phrases such as “IFA militant tendency” and “loonies” and attaches such descriptions, without qualification, to all of those who are interested in whether RDR is fit for purpose and who seek to question it, is in itself calling into question the honesty and integrity of such individuals.

    A point which I suspect may have escaped you, Nic, and is very worthy of your consideration imho. ”

    My last post, addressed specifically to you, Paul, as Editor, asked you to review, thoroughly, the initial article and all subsequent posts.

    I trust you will allow me this post to explain the connection between those two posts from me, and more importantly why I have now addressed these comments to you, as Editor, and to David Cowan, as Publisher.

    1 – Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides a general right to freedom of Expression.

    2 – Article 10 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights states that one of the legitimate grounds for limiting an individual’s right to freedom of expression is in order to protect the reputation of others.

    3 – The thorough review of the initial article, and of subsequent posts, which I asked you to conduct, and upon which there has been no response from you, would in my opinion reveal comments which may breach the boundary between 1 and 2 above. As such, those whose reputations may have been affected may consider their right of action under the terms of the Defamation Act 1996. To avoid any doubt, I do not exclude myself from that number, and reserve my rights in their entirety.

    4 – There have been a number of legal cases which have a bearing in all of this, one dating back as far as 1830 involving the Duke of Brunswick (*). However, in addressing this post to you, Paul, as Editor, and having noted my request for a thorough review has gone unanswered by you, and in addressing it also to David Cowan, as Publisher, I would draw your attention to these specific legal precedents which I suggest deserve your full, and I would further suggest, your immediate attention.

    The first – Laurence Godfrey v Demon Internet Limited

    The second – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd & Others – and the subsequent decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – (*) which decision upheld the 160-year-old rule of English law, I mentioned above.

    I now therefore repeat my request to you as Editor to thoroughly review the article, and all subsequent posts, and I now additionally request that you do so with the involvement of David Cowan, as Publisher.

    I hope having done so, and perhaps taken appropriate legal advice, you will reflect on what actions may prove to be in the best interests of all those involved, and I do genuinely mean all.

    Perhaps your earlier post as Editor referring to the moderation over a post, and the removal of what proved unacceptable, (which also has its implications from a legal standpoint) will serve as a guide in reaching your conclusions.

    Full, frank, unbridled debate on substance is important, anything else should find itself a new home.

    Footnote: Those with an interest in the absence of a 15 year long stop will find the case of Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd & Others worth reading.

  46. @Mike Fenwick

    One word: seriously?

    A comment article in a trade publication stirs your feelings up so much that you find it necessary to carry out detailed research into case law?

    Who’s watching the shop?

    Shock news: journo has opinions with which some readers don’t agree. Get over yourselves!

    For the avoidance of doubt I’ll repeat what I said yesterday. While many advisers are, in this comment thread, industriously considering the number of angels that can boogie on the head of a pin, can I remind you that you’re doing this in full view of consumers?

    And this one in particular isn’t impressed with what he’s seeing.

  47. re Mike Fenwick | 16 Nov 2010 10:24 am

    You are clearly someone with way too much time on their hands.

    One thing you have all got to give Nic credit for – he has certainly opened up a lively debate! Which is his job I presume!

  48. PensionMan

    I don’t know who you are, that is your choice my chicken, you don’t know who Mike Fenwick is, that is your loss my ignoramos.

    Cicutti, the last time you lost the plot I devoted a whole web page to the mind of a mad journo at – any suggestions for a sequel?

  49. WOW! Can I have the last 15 minutes of my life back please? This is embarrassing…from both sides of the fence.

  50. @ Evan Owen: Your website, your decision, it’s got nothing to do with me. I don’t mind personal insults, so go for it.

    @ Mike Fenwick: in the middle of your splendid but totally irrelevant and slightly barmy review of the law as pertains to journalism, you forgot to mention the Distress Act 1267, the Restraint of Subinfeudation Act 1290 and Revocation of New Ordinances Act 1323, not to mention the Confirmation of Liberties Act 1405…

  51. Yes, yes – ‘impugned’, ‘slander’, ‘loonies’ etc etc.

    When is the FIGHT going to take place?

  52. Evan Owen

    “I don’t know who you are, that is your choice my chicken, you don’t know who Mike Fenwick is, that is your loss my ignoramos.

    With the risk of sounding pedantic I do not wish to be called an “ignoramus” by someone who cannot even spell the word.

    I dont really care who Mr Fenwick is (no offence Mr Fenwick) however I do think that my point re having far too much time is valid. If I am incorrect then apologies to Mr Fenwick.

    Considering all of the above comments I am so glad that I am not an IFA!

  53. Sorry PensionMan

    Finger trouble, do you wear your underpants on the outside of your trousers and fly?

    This blog is more fun than a… er… maybe not.

  54. This is making me cringe.

    But does reinforce my (low) opinion of IFAs.

    Please print the email exchange referred to above, it’s keeping me riveted to the story with fascinated horror…

  55. I’m backing Team Kershaw on this one.


  56. Nic may I ask you if it is professional to get into a slanging match on the very floor of your own article? Its almost like a bar room brawl down here.

    To move on: I have a great deal of time for BPP Learning Media, more so than the CII but are you not missing the point. Further education should be voluntary and not by conscription and forced.

    So too consumer choice! If the consumer wants to pay by fees and to also pay for higher qualifications (not standards) then why not leave that choice with the consumer?

    You trained in the NHS as a Mental Nurse and now all new Nurses must meet degree standards. No one, absolutely no one is now demanding the requalification of existing Nurses that have already qualified to the accepted standards of their time.

    I fail to understand why these fundamental issues don’t float your journalistic boat. Here we have a Stasi like quango forcing a huge expense on an industry that does not need it, whilst the banks sit in the background waiting for the scraps of independent distribution that remains after the IFA cull – why can’t you see that for it is, and even if you can’t see it then who will you wind up when we are all gone?

  57. @ Simon Mansell: is it professional to get involved in a slanging match? TBH, I’ve got nothing to lose. If I don’t get stuck in, I still get slagged off anyway, with all sorts of personal and other comments. On several occasions I’ve been involved in discussions with IFAs who then print those discussions on their own little listservs for the titillation of their peers (without realising that I am also a member and know what they are doing).

    All of that is fine and, again, I urge you to go back and check previous columns, you’ll find that I rarely intervene in what people say about me. On this occasion, I felt one particular respondent went way over the top. I was accused, in effect, of being corrupt.

    The person in question, even when confronted, failed to apologise. Not only, but he then half-repeated his comments on several more occasions. In addition, some of his chums chose to weigh in and support him.

    Frankly, when that happens my attitude is “gloves off”: you want to have a go at me on an issue of trust, I’ll give you back 100 times worse.

    Does it harm me or my credibility if I go on the warpath? Look, let’s be frank, regardless of what I say, do you seriously think for one second that the attitude of those who choose to abuse me, anonymously or otherwise, would change? I don’t think so and neither do you.

    If that’s the case, then I see no point in faffing about. My attitude is simple. Have a go at me by all means, but the minute you infer that I am dishonest I will never, ever stop coming back at you.

    If just a single participant in this discussion manages to learn this lesson, good. If not, then they are going to continue having problems with me on this site and everywhere else.

    Finally, you mention nursing: as it happens I am in favour of greater professionalism among nurses, including degrees. If the NMC were to tell ALL nurses that they would have to achieve degree-standard qualifications after a certain period, I would not have a great problem with it.

    What I am opposed to in this drive to greater qualifications is the way it may be used in some quarters to downgrade the human aspects of care and patient interaction that nurses do – and might lose as a result. You can have lots of health care planners, but a the end of the day you also need someone to do the physical side of nursing.

    I also think there is a fundamental difference between telling a Scale 5 qualified nurse, who has already spent three years on sh*t pay training for a job (as compared to some IFAs who have spent 3 weeks to achieve their qualifications) and is then on 20k-25k a year, that she has to get a degree, when not having one already shuts her out of the future promotion stakes, and telling an IFA with the potential to earn many times that sum of money – but who baulks at the thought of obtaining a set of qualifications which even its (most optimistic) supporters admit barely takes one to Year 1 undergraduate level. All registered nurses have been at least on that level for years, so it leaves me wondering what the comparison you are trying to make is all about.

    One more thing: all Return to Practice nurses, those who have been out of the profession for 5 years or longer, have to pay £1,000 of their own money and take a one day a week university course involving a minimum 100 classroom hours (usually between 120 and 150 hours), plus a minimum 150 hours on placement and a further 150 hours of private study, culminating in the equivalent of a case study-based paper that takes at least 100 hours to research and write. So when I hear about IFAs bleating about how had-done they are, I’d like to send them on a few years of cleaning backsides for a living.

    Not quite the answer you were looking for, but I’m not here to make you or anyone else happy, only to tell you how things are at Chateau Cicutti. Have a good weekend.

  58. The only way we can stop this madness is to stop reading/commenting on anything nic says.
    He only ever writes with the intention of winding people up.
    MM will stop paying him if everyone stops reading his “anticles”

  59. A lawyer has suggested that at least two people have a chance of obtaining damages!

    The title is “Get a sense of reality”.

    Perhaps now is the time for all concerned to get a grip on some sense because the reality is that matters could get out of hand in what is a professional weekly newspaper which has a record of employing professional journalists.

  60. @Nic Cicutti | 18 Nov 2010 4:58 pm

    I still maintain that surely you should not get involved in such brawls and yet your response is to throw in even more punches! It is clear that you really do have an issue with IFAs for whatever reason and I doubt we will ever find the bottom of this on such a blog. My point is that this debate goes beyond such issues and I feel you could address the “bigger picture” and still retain your prejudices which I can see you hold. The bigger picture is the quasi judicial powers of the FOS, their ability to fine up to £150,000, the lack of appeal, the lack of a long-stop and the ability to make up their rules as they go along? I don’t like terrorists but I still respect their human rights. What about the Human Rights Act 1998, and its application to IFA’s? What of retrospectively application of rules? What about the fact that the FSMA does not permit the FSA to cancel an authorisation simply because the FSA has changed its views on what the appropriate qualifications should be? These are all real constitutional issues and as a member of the press you could pick these up rather than pick up fights and sink to the level of a brawl on your own article! When you focus on such issues your writing is a force to be reckoned with and I only hope you move away from this destructive journalism that ends up doing no one any favours least of all you!

  61. A Nonny mouse | 17 Nov 2010 10:23 am

    Re: This is making me cringe.

    But does reinforce my (low) opinion of IFAs.

    You are assuming that the people writing the comments that you dissaprove of are IFAs.

    Many are not, check their names against active advisers, then check and see if they are IFAs.

    Often in comments on IFA sites you will be lucky if you see three active IFAs. I kid you not.

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