We have asked influential figures to give us their thoughts and consider the revolutionary changes the industry has gone through.
IFAs probably feel like they have been caught up in a constant revolution to often lead to casualties. Some good businesses as well as bad have been lost as regulatory as well as other more typical business pressures took their toll.
But there is a still a robust IFA sector, although one facing a new set of dilemmas about where to take their businesses or where to work as depolarisation makes an impact.
In the past 20 years, there have been lots of satisfied clients served by advisers, fund companies, insurers and lenders. People have got the homes they want, even those with poor credit histories, pensions have paid out, savings have come to people’s rescue or paid for luxuries and insurance has helped people through illness or looked after their loved ones in their absence. It is not all bad news.
But we have had to report it. We have seen scandals a’plenty, misselling and false accusations of misselling and unfortunately thousands of disgruntled customers.
We have always held the view that people will almost always benefit from getting advice and that the shysters out there are a very small minority. They still exist though. I remember one IFA remarking to me about his local MP who was always criticising IFAs. This IFA said that what all the local brokers should do was get together and at least write to the local paper to try to set the record straight But he could not because of the dozens of IFAs in the town there was one guy he could not put his name to paper alongside. Many advisers probably have similar feelings. But hopefully there are fewer and fewer of these bad apples and perhaps Money Marketing has played a role in finding them out.
For 20 years, Money Marketing has stuck up for IFAs when at times if felt like no one else would. This newspaper has tried to hold the regulators to account whether in the era of self regulation or under the FSA which is probably more powerful within its market than any other regulator in the world.
We have campaigned against commission disclosure – although it is not certain we would do so today – in favour of building society mutuality, demanded a fair deal for IFAs from the regulator and the ombudsman and demanded that the Government and FSA justify how depolarisation would be in the consumer interest We have not won all these campaigns – one reviewer recently suggested that you should not launch campaigns unless you could guarantee you would win them all- but it is not a view we hold at Money Marketing and even where we have not succeeded we have made the powers that be justify their actions at least a little.
We have allowed the industry to debate the issues. It would be a less interesting industry to report on if there were agreement on the level of regulation, on commission versus fees, on with-profits, on polarisation. Our platform for debate includes everyone from regular letter-writers to whom we are always grateful to product providers and the various regulators and politicians if they want to avail themselves of the opportunity.
Our columnists, some almost as long serving as the paper itself, provided clarity on a wide variety of issues.
But our main reason for existence is to provide you with the latest news. In recent years, we have been first to warn of professional indemnity insurance problems as a series of court cases and ED decisions made the market look harsher, the massive dislocation threatened by CP121, we revealed IFA deals from the early Misys network deals through to AMP’s purchase of Towry Law. We also pointed out that stakeholder promised 10 years of losses for the life offices.
You cannot do this without some of the best young journalists in the country – and a series of Money Marketing editors have been made to look good by the teams of journalists we have been lucky enough to employ.
One last thank you to the readers – thank you for your support We hope you keep reading for the next 20 years.