View more on these topics

Inside View – John Cowan

Is it just me or is this election campaign simply a non event? Dividing

my time between London Village and Central Scotland, I find that geographic

location has made no difference to the level of public interest in the


Sure, there are posters everywhere, politicians out pressing flesh but

somehow it hasn&#39t all come together. Foot and mouth disease has even

surpassed foot in mouth as the preferred headline.

Very few of us would want to compare ourselves with politicians and the

world of politics but, cynically, it strikes me that there are some

compelling analogies between the worlds of financial services and politics.

What we actually do, day in day out, to sell our products and services is

not a million miles removed from the manifestos, flyers and hustings of the

political arena. Ok, maybe there is less kissing of babies.

Most of us would rather not think about the turgid world of policy and

government just as most of our customers would rather not think about death

and taxes.

As product providers, we, just like Blair, Hague, and Kennedy all deal

with the frustrations of inertia, the partisanship of some elements of the

media and a lack of understanding by the public.

Like politicians we all believe our policies are the best. However, the

reality is that consumers just do not trust us to be objective. Everybody

wants a secure financial future just as we all want an efficient health

service and quality educational system but mostly people can&#39t translate

this into an objective decision about who will best be able to deliver this.

In general, they make an emotional decision based on their perception of

the “brand” – blue, yellow, or red? So if this is true in politics which is

profoundly dull, how much more true is it of the arcane world of financial

services (sorry chaps)? It simply doesn&#39t seem central to people&#39s lives.

In the political world the general election is a call to action, we have no

such parallel in financial services.

As product providers and advisers to the public, our challenge is to make

them aware and care about financial issues.

As I am writing this, my post has arrived with yet another technicolor

manifesto (Conservative, Westminster and City Ward) the improbably named Mr

Field – another link to foot and mouth.

What is the real difference between Blair, Hague and Kennedy on the NHS,

for example, and how will their policies benefit me and my family? The good

news is that while this independent service does not exist in the political

arena, it is well and flourishing in financial services.

We should all welcome the birth of Advice First, a com-pany which is

designed to promote the existence of this unique service.

In this politically correct week, I suppose I should declare an interest.

I am a director of Advice First. Our target is to raise awareness among

consumers and key opinion-formers about independent advisers and to promote

the need for a sensible regulatory framework.

We have been too passive and slow to defend the worthy cause of

independent financial advice. It is time to wheel out our own soapbox and

talk to our constituents – both the man on the Clapham omnibus and the


John Cowan is group sales director of Scottish Amicable Financial Services


Platform widening criteria

Non-conforming lender Platform Home Loans is widening its lending criteriafor all borrowers and introducing a new loan range. In an attempt to capitalise on what it claims is the strong performance ofits existing mortgage book, Platform will lend to borrowers with a poorercredit history than it would previously accept. It will now judge all cases […]

Outside Edge – Robert Reid

When I heard the phrase Advice First, I was pleased that some of mycomments in the past such as “planning before product” had finally takenroot in the IFA mindset. But I was to be disappointed as this phrase wasthe new name for the IFAP/Aifa joint promotion company. Some time ago, I was asked whether I […]

&#39Sub-prime&#39 branded an offensive term

Self-employed mortgage borrowers should not be branded as sub-prime customers because the term is offensive, claims a service for self-employed professionals.Alodis, which has 45,000 members, claims lenders routinely categorise the self-employed with “criminals and bad debtors” although they often represent a better lending risk.It says the self-employed should be called non-conforming borrowers and not be […]

Skipton offers new tracker bond

Skipton Building Society is launching a tracker bond, offering up to 30 per cent growth over two years.The 2-Year ShareTracker Bond guarantees the full return of capital invested, as well as 30 per cent over two years provided there has been no fall in the share price of five selected companies over the two years. […]


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