Natalie Holt: Holding FCA and Govt to account

Natalie Holt, journalist with Money Marketing Photo by Michael Walter/Troika

Taking over as editor of Money Marketing last year was significant for me on a number of levels, not least because I was the first female editor to be appointed in the publication’s then 29-year history.

When I came to the title in 2010, my background was in mortgages and I was as yet uninitiated to the trials and travails of the RDR. Much late night reading ensued, and I quickly recognised the regulator’s idea of “consultation” often seemed to be more fait accompli.

Our editorial line in the run-up to the RDR was that while driving standards was key in establishing advice as a profession, the execution of the RDR left a lot to be desired. The constant flip-flopping from the FSA and the FCA on what to do about platform rebates is a case in point.

Post-RDR, we led the way in getting to grips with the impact of such a seismic change for advisers. We were the first magazine to reveal what the high street banks were charging for advice, a story followed up in several national newspapers. We were also first on setting out the human cost of the RDR, publishing a full breakdown of the fall in adviser numbers as a result of the reforms.

Money Marketing is not afraid to challenge regulators and the  Government where policymakers get it wrong, where rules and legislation are either detrimental to advice firms or risk poor consumer outcomes.

One example is the FCA’s original definition of independence, which stated that “advisers cannot call themselves independent where they refer to specialists, whether internal or external”.

Our regulatory sources pointed out to us this definition did not make sense, and we quoted leading figures urging advisers to ignore FCA guidance. The outcry among the industry eventually led to a regulatory U-turn.

Of course, the biggest story for advisers has been Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget bombshell, with the aftershocks and unintended consequences still being felt today.

After poring over the Budget legislation, we uncovered small print which pointed to savers being hit with harsh penalties for accessing their pension pot if they failed to notify their other providers they had done so.

We tipped off then shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont, who raised it in a parliamentary committee. The story gained momentum and culminated in the Government rolling back on the more stringent reporting requirements.

Money Marketing continues to push for transparency on whether pension freedoms are building greater engagement in retirement saving, or saving up problems for the future. Our story earlier this year on the raft of pension freedoms cases to hit the Financial Ombudsman Service, based on a freedom of information request, recently won an award for the trade article of the year.

Our clout and relationship with industry sources means we regularly secure high profile interviews, such as with ousted FCA boss Martin Wheatley, pensions minister Ros Altmann, and star manager Neil Woodford to name but a few.

The weight of history is not something to be taken lightly. I am keen to ensure Money Marketing continues to lead the charge and set the news agenda on the issues that matter most to advisers.

Natalie Holt, years as editor: 2014 – present