View more on these topics

Independent view

It is very easy for us to indulge in a lot of navel-gazing and introspection. We seem to be continually facing changes and some of those not very well thought through.

The pace of change has also been rapid, particularly recently, as we cope with a multitude of reviews, regulatory changes and quite a lot of input from the Government. It is sometimes helpful to note that we are not alone.

I found a kindred spirit in the unlikely form of a taxi driver who was driving me home one night.

He opened the conversation by asking me what I thought of Ken Livingstone and proceeded to let me know in no uncertain terms that, in spite of having voted for him as mayor, he had very little time for him now. He was bemoaning the changes to the fee structure of taxis.

I said to him that from the point of view of the consumer, I was finding that, particularly late at night, it was much easier to get a taxi. I had spoken to another taxi driver and I understood that this was because the cost of the fare has gone up and this meant that it was more attractive for cabs to be working in the evening and so there were more available for consumers.

Ah, said my taxi driver, do not be fooled by that. The reason why there are so many taxis on the road is that people are not paying the new prices. I am not quite sure exactly how much the new prices have gone up but it is likely to be 20-25 per cent. The taxi driver also said that although the fares do not go up until 8pm, people&#39s perception is that they have gone up before then and customers who were taking regular runs in taxis are now standing in line waiting for public transport.

I proceeded to tell him how our prices are being controlled but in a reverse sense. That products were being made cheaper for consumers and margins were being squeezed in the area in which I work. It is a different effect of price control but interesting that both are dictated by politicians.

My taxi driver said life was much better before taxis were controlled by the Government. I said we have a new statutory regulator, so I know what you mean. He painted a world as being much more flexible and that, before the Government had direct interference with taxi drivers, things worked much better for them.

It seems to me from these conversations that it is not only our area that the Government is having a very direct input into but also many others. This does give it an enormous amount of power and, if misused, it would be of great concern.

We both happily concluded the conversation by talking about the qualifications that we have to go through. The knowledge is not an easy set of exams to pass and taxi drivers really do have to know their onions as far as the London roads are concerned as well as issues of passenger safety and knowing their car and its mechanics.

We have to do the knowledge too and around all sorts of tight corners. We then set to wondering what qualifications you needed to become an MP and decided it was not half as much as either he or I had to go through. It was a satisfying conversation.

It did set me thinking that the power of the Government is much more far reaching than we think. It is a concern that MPs who hold tenure for such a short period of time and rotate themselves with alarming regularity can set in motion some “good ideas” and never be there to be accountable for their results, whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

We are right to question the system where ministers are in situ for an average of 15 months. What incentive is there to make long-term plans? We are very much in a long-term industry.

Clients are amazed that I will be looking at their financial future over 20, 30 or even 40 or more years. I have to make these long-term decisions for them because I know that what I am putting in place will be with them for a considerable number of years.

It is a shame that the Government is not able to operate on a longer-term basis. I am convinced that it would be better for the Government, consumers and indeed better for those who it has a direct hand in regulating, whether it be a taxi driver or an IFA.

Amanda Davidson is director of Holden Meehan


A consumer&#39s view

Benefits consultant Mercer has put the cat among the pigeons by spelling out two unpalatable truths which will upset many in the pension industry as well as the Government.The ABI has been promoting its members´ interests, pushing hard for an increase in the 1 per cent charge cap on stakeholder pensions. The argument is that […]

Inside Edge

There is a new set of social political and economic pressures facing our industry and the traditional drivers and virtues that formed the basis of providers business plans in the latter part of the 20th Century have been consigned to the history books.There is a growing consolidation of providers and intermediaries through mergers and acquisitions […]

Rothschild chief executive to join Deutsche

Rothschild Asset Management chief executive Paul Manduca will join Deutsche Asset Management in December in a move widely predicted by the industry.Manduca will become DAM&#39s CEO for Europe after announcing last week that he did not expect to have a future role with RAM now the company was seeking a buyer or merger partner.He will […]

Putting the boot in to industry&#39s reputation

Recent publicity surrounding Manchester United captain Roy Keane reminded me that once an individual has a reputation, it is inevitable that they will live up to their billing.The danger of using soundbites when talking to a personal finance journalist in the national press is that, at some point, you will be caught out by a […]


Case study: administration — managing group life schemes

Our client leads the global market in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media. The trustees of the company’s final salary pension scheme insure death-in-service lump sum and dependants’ pension death benefits for active employees, as well as dependants’ pension benefits for deferred members (those who have left service).


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm