Everyone loves a panda, the prime symbol of endangered animals. Charities spend every waking hour fundraising and providing donors with cuddly toys. A baby panda is an international news story.
All this effort and I cannot help but ask: does the panda understand it is an endangered species? And, more importantly, does it care?
I doubt IFAs understand how endangered they are. Last week I asked our members to send in their regulatory invoices. We took the results and created the average firm: its costs had increased from £4,194 to £22,600 since 2010.
At this rate, by 2020, it will face a bill of £87,000. Quite simply, that is unsustainable.
Advisers are regulated by a body that avoids fining HBOS directors but will pursue an adviser into retirement and beyond. A body that is completely unaccountable to the politicians that created it or to the consumers it claims to serve.
Advisers have watched the RDR remove £3bn from the value of their businesses and a number of them will not survive the loss of trail commission. Advisers will never prosper under the FCA.
Two weeks ago, we launched a fighting fund with the aim of raising £50,000 to pay for a campaign to turn our Professional Advisers Regulator dream into a reality. We believe a separate regulator designed specifically for advisers would do a better job for clients than the FCA, and at a lower cost.
If we get the right support we can do the job. If not, perhaps advisers are an endangered species that is not worth saving.
Garry Heath is director general of Libertatem