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We have recently been considering a new strap line for our business – something bold and eye-catching. For some time, we have considered ourselves to be “better and different” than most other IFAs. Now I know this may sound arrogant but we do not think so.

It all goes back to a few years ago when we met a successful IFA, who had a business which was better and different too. He kept saying that you have to be better and different. That saying stuck and has shaped the development of our business ever since, so much so it culminated in us deciding to use the saying as a strap line for our business.

To run with it we thought we would put it past our compliance consultants and to our great surprise and disappointment we were advised against it. The reason given was we would have to be able to back it up and prove it and also because it could leave us open to complaints if, for example, clients became disappointed with their investments’ performance and wanted to make a claim against us.

There followed a series of emails which culminated in a telephone call from our compliance consultant who said to use such a phrase would be in contravention of the FSA Rulebook. I thought to myself this is yet another case of political correctness gone mad.

Would any client truly bel-ieve and rely on our strap line “better and different” without themselves first conducting some intelligent research? Would any person believe it meant our investment performance was better than any other firm? I do not think so.

The expression “better and different” is our belief, our opinion – that we are better and different, nothing more, nothing less. Let’s face it, no intelligent person for one moment could possibly have thought that Everest was the best double glazing window company in the country simply because of its slogan – “Fit the best, fit Everest”. I do not consider that slogan to be misleading even if I do not necessarily believe Everest is the best.

The reason for this is because such an opinion is purely subjective. Also it is an insult to the public to think that anyone could ever be so gullible as to believe such a slogan and rely on it without checking other firms first. I think it is more to do with freedom of speech than anything else. Virtually all adverts claim that a business’s product or service is superior in some way or other to its competitors.

Do you remember the slogan for Whitbread Trophy Bitter “the pint that thinks it’s a quart”? Again, did anyone truly believe Trophy Bitter meant you got two pints for the price of one? Of course not.

I did not mention to our compliance consultant the slogan I truly wanted was “Better and different -guaranteed”, which would have really made him apoplectic. The use of the word “guaranteed” was selected because a large well-known insurance company has the slogan “We guarantee the advice of our advisers”.

The tide seems to be starting to turn against political correctness. There is a website devoted to exposing political correctness for what is, called You can even join its campaign against political correctness. The site’s opening quote is: “The result of shielding people from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools”. How very true.

The site goes on to say: “Political correctness is an attack on free speech, clear thinking and discussion. Political correctness is perpetrated by the left in politics as a cover for their flawed ideology – a sort of cultural Marxism”. Heavy stuff but hard to argue against especially when you read about the many absurd examples on the site. Hum-ourous but depressing too. Political correctness is a bit too much like George Orwell’s book 1984 for my liking.

Freedom of speech is something of great value in a democracy but it is being lost in this country under the New Labour government. For the FSA read New Labour. The FSA is nothing more than a quango – a puppet of the government. How a rulebook can be created by the FSA which effectively prevents our business from using a perfectly good slogan is beyond me. I can only hope for a change in Government and for common sense to emerge.

Tony Byrne is tax mananagement, financial planning director at Byrne Williams


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