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Keith Richards: FAMR offers once in a generation chance to shape advice regulation

In a welcome move away from the tendency to convert almost anything into a three or four letter acronym, it is amusing to find the Treasury’s recently announced Financial Advice Market Review has instead attracted an agricultural reference, already being referred to as the ‘farmer review’.

On a more serious note, however, FAMR (if you prefer it), is a clear indication the regulator is having to do significantly more than just look at improving access. It could ultimately lead to the reform of regulation itself.

The primary objective is to increase access to advice services, and consider the removal of barriers, unnecessary bureaucracy and cost, which add little or no value to the end consumer.

It is not a time for the profession to criticise the regulator, however, as there will be many in positions of power and influence who will understandably be cautious of any attempts to dumb down what they will perceive as essential public protection. Balanced professional input is, therefore, essential.

For the first time in more than two-and-a-half decades, a Government-led review will allow every stakeholder to contribute to potential reforms, based on the core objectives that have been set.

These include input regarding the impact of regulation, unlimited liability and the disproportionate costs.

For the Government to take no action, given the overwhelming evidence already available, would in itself leave the public less protected. Consequently, I  am pleased to see advisers’ clients and the public more broadly are at the heart of this review: a key point worth bearing in mind.

Leaving the public to fend for themselves, engage in unregulated activity which offers no protection or, worse, find themselves exposed to the increasing number of scammers, would be untenable.

This is an opportunity for every adviser to influence regulation of the profession. Let’s make it count.

Keith Richards is chief executive at the PFS

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