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Independent view

It is probably close enough to the end of the calendar year for me to draft my wish list for 2003. The advantage of a wish list is that it can be a complete fantasy list – and mine is no exception.

The stockmarket steadies and rallies. This promotes instant investor confidence. People pile into the stockmarket as they see this as a growth area, their buy-to-let property projects fall to the wayside. People also develop a real understanding of equities, and coupled with this a real liking for them. The appetite for equities has never been so great.

The FSA fully adopts the menu approach for the DPS. It hails Aifa as the trade body for the future with innovative ideas and gives them full credit for the solution to this section of CP121.

The Government announces a 1.5 per cent stakeholder. This is a new breed of pensions, designed to take over from the lacklustre 1 per cent stakeholder and in response to listening to the industry.

There is a compulsory 5 per cent contribution to this new breed of pension, the super-stakeholder, and investors must use an IFA to take out their pensions. As a result, commissions increase and IFAs make more money.

Following hot on the heels of the super-stakeholder the Treasury announces the 1.5 per cent stakeholder suite. It appreciates that it will not get the savings gap closed unless there is an advice load built into the costing of the contracts.

It involves IFAs in the design of these contracts as they are closest to the clients that they want to attract. This insures that the appropriate products are designed and that IFAs are on board to market them because they can be paid out of the contract for their advice.

Equitable develops an honesty streak. It lets us all know exactly what its financial circumstances are and, critically, how near to insolvency it is. This either promotes confidence in the insurer so they can reduce their MVA or alternatively people leave in droves – take your pick.

PI insurers pay claims promptly and drop premiums. There is no more quibbling about whether a particular “t” was crossed or an “i” was dotted and in recognition of the importance of IFAs and their good claims history premiums are suitably reduced.

The FSA announces and guarantees that there will never ever be any reviews like the pensions review, ever.

IFAs are voted the most popular profession in leading consumer magazines. As a result, lots of graduates want to join the industry and there are various high-profile pieces in consumer magazines discussing becoming an IFA as a career and what they do to benefit their clients.

There is also a new TV soap that is launched featuring Alfie, the world&#39s favourite IFA, who goes around doing good deeds all day. There is promotional marketing of Alfie badges and caps including CDs of his very popular theme tune. The UK goes Alfie mad.

The profitability of IFAs soars as the Government sponsors a percentage of IFA payroll for a five-year period to encourage the closing of the savings gap.

The Government is wholly behind IFAs and sets reasonable targets for them to help close the savings gap in return for the sponsorship of the payroll. Pension tax relief and tax-free lump sums are granted a 20-year amnesty with a guarantee from the Government not to be tinkered about with.

The Government abolishes the age 75 rule. As politicians get nearer to this age themselves, they realise how futile it is that their money has to buy an annuity, and they scrap it entirely. They adopt Oonagh McDonald&#39s proposition of a minimum amount of annuity, and mildly tax the balance and return it to people to invest as they choose. Of course, people pile into equities (see above).

In response to the craving for equities, the Government increases the Isa allowance to £10,000 per person per tax year and allows children from birth to have Isa allowances of this amount as well.

Inheritance tax thresholds are raised to a reasonable level of £500,000 in recognition of the boom in property prices that means many more estates are hitting the IHT level.

On reflection, I am probably lucky if one is adopted. In fact, one has come true in that the FSA has wisely adopted the menu approach. However, the point about a wish list is that is can be as wild and improbable as one likes, even though many of the recommendations are wholly sensible.

Amanda Davidson is a director at Holden Meehan


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