“Dear Steve. You are cordially (but professionally) invited (well, you will have to pay for half of it) to attend our forthcoming conference (and please expunge any previous association you may have with the word – this is, I assure you, nothing of the sort) on tax planning.
“To elaborate (and by this we mean provide more hard facts, rather than anything more extravagant) on the previous bracketed explanation, we can confirm that any idle pleasure you may have enjoyed at previous events (tut, tut, Steve, did the client benefit from your titillation?) will have no place at this strictly business affair.
“If you would like to attend, then I have enclosed a client benefit consideration form for you to complete to ensure nothing, save the client’s best interests, are at the heart of this decision.
“Before returning this form to us, please remember that you will only be cheating the client and, ultimately, yourself if a full disclosure of your motivations is not provided.
“We will not be angry, more disappointed. There is, though, no legislating for how your regulator may respond, as at this stage they prefer to not offer any more clarity on the matter.
“You will be required to present a signed copy of this document at the door on the morning of the event where our head of fun police will take this, and your general countenance (dank attire, solemn mood recommended), into consideration before permitting your entrance.
Note that trousers unduly tapered may be taken as a sign of your intent to carry excessive ‘swagger’ into proceedings, which may, in turn, avert the focus of others in the room from our raison d’etre: better client outcomes.”
Some party, hey? But, like it or not, that is how we roll in the new world. According to Article 24(9) of Mifid II, an investment firm is only permitted to pay or be paid an inducement (namely, a fee, commission or non-monetary benefit) in connection with the provision of an investment service or ancillary service where the relevant payment:
1: Is designed to enhance the quality of the relevant service to a client of the investment firm; and
2: Does not impair compliance with the investment firm’s duty to act honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with the best interests of its clients.
Will this help create better outcomes? I do not know. But it will certainly make the world a slightly duller place.
Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research