After a protracted gestation period, the Adviser Alliance is finally up and running and we invite all IFAs to stick together with us in the struggle for the restoration of common sense and the novelty of regulatory balance. An additional target is advisers’ reasonable expec- tation that they can rely on the rule of law for protection.
Our dedicated website, www.adviseralliance.co.uk indicates our aims and the site content will continue to evolve as it is augmented by information and updates. Early days yet, but we anticipate making a significant difference. We strongly urge advisers, particularly those whose natural tendency is to procrastinate or assume the position, to join and provide their support.
The next 18 months will decide the future of retail financial services for the following decade and we cannot wait for that day in the future when reality hits home and the RDR is seen as the false holy grail that it really is.
There are many questions which we simply do not have answers to.
Does the FSA actually understand retail financial services? If not, should we be arguing with them or engaging them in meaningful and educational conversations?
Why is it that the RDR authors seem to believe that the banks will be able to service millions of lower- earning consumers with a process that is both moral and advantageous to both parties?
I could go on but the answers to these and other questions will reveal the reasons why the FSA and the bulk of the industry have reached such a discord. Only then will a sensible conversation be possible.
As an industry, surely we share the common ambitions to see more consumers saving and insuring and less bogged down by foolish debt.
The adviser community is the only mechanism that can achieve this because every other method requires consumers to take the first step. If this reality can be accepted by the FSA, then the RDR becomes redundant.
In my last column, I gently prodded those protection providers that have failed to offer worthwhile income protection plans. One anonymous poster took me to task, caustically commented on my “words of wisdom” and offered the suggestion that I feel disinclined towards Friends Provident. Such comments do require a response.
We can all potshot from the safety of anonymity as this is an easy and painless option. All columnists suffer this type of sniping and it goes with the territory but it is a shame that the hosts of anonymous posters are not prepared to disclose their names.
It is regrettable but understandable that advisers may want to target the FSA in some closeted fashion due to the fear of reprisals but secrecy also conceals many sad losers who only vent their spleen when their name tag is turned around.
I am not anti any provider because history relates that the good or bad provider of today may well be the champion or pretender in a few years time.
What irritates is the knowledge that many major providers adopt the RDR technique to their product design – they reach a consensus by asking the theorists to construct a policy which ultimately fails the litmus test when advisers shun it due to ineffectiveness.
Incidentally, I am not the only protection adviser to feel this way.
Alan Lakey is a partner at Highclere Financial Services