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Independent view

I can think of about a dozen reasons why I should not be outspoken and forget what else is happening around me and just adjust my business appropriately when inappropriate regulation and stupid regimes are introduced.I wouldn&#39t upset as many people. I wouldn&#39t incur the wrath of the investment gro-ups, the life companies and even the regulator.

Sadly, that is the way 99.9 per cent of the brokers in this country act. It is a philosophy that is completely wrong.

Just like I believe the French are stupid in agreeing to all the Brussels regulation and then hoping that they will not have to impose it, they are merely deferring the day. They will one day have to impose the regulation that they voted for but didn&#39t think applied to them.

Similarly everyone in this land who is working in our wonderful industry who is not prepared to stand up to inequality and unfairness perpetrated by people who have no comprehension either of the industry or what the clients want is not being helpful.

I can remember when I came into this industry over 20 years ago, you got less commission on life products if you were not registered under the Insurance Brokers&#39 Registration Council.

It was absolutely crazy – it meant the local motor broker who could not spell pension got a better rate of commission for merely supplying the same plan that I understood and actually promoted.

However, even in those days, although there were only three of us in the firm, I was prepared to take on this issue. I have been fighting the City, the life companies and unit trust groups ever since.

Today, there are many issues in this industry about which people have a bee in their bonnet but, as always, 99.9 per cent of the broking community are sitting meekly by waiting for a few people like myself to air our concerns.

I even had a phone call from another broker the other week airing one of his concerns, hoping that I would take up his issue. I had to tell him quite categorically that I would not. I did, however, say that I would have a very dim view of him if he did not take up the issue himself.

The message I have to everyone today is if you do not like the Sandler report, you don&#39t like the Investors&#39 Com-pensation Scheme used to line the pockets of the shareholders of Towry Law, the new polarisation plans or any other issue, don&#39t just expect that it is going to happen whatever you do.

You should be up in arms about it. You should be writing to your local MP. You should be writing to the regulator. You should be writing to the life companies you use.

I assure you it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil and it is up to the brokering fraternity of this land who actually have met clients and understand clients to question the regulators, the Sandler report and polarisation plans. Otherwise, some academic devoid of common sense in an ivory tower will decide our future and our clients&#39 future and he will probably receive a knighthood for completely destroying our industry.

It is up to you to protest. Don&#39t assume that my voice alone will put things right. Indeed, you might disagree with much of what I say, so you should not let me get my way either but where is the voice of the trade associations – are they after gongs too?

Peter Hargreaves is managing director of Hargreaves Lansdown


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