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Manifesto brings IFAs in from cold

Aifa’s manifesto for advice is a remarkably astute, agenda setting document. It sets out rights and responsibilities for advisers and has scored a remarkable success in securing the endorsement of the minister for pensions reform Mike O’Brien.

It is in keeping with the spirit of the times. The FSA wants to move on with its principle-based approach. Hopefully, the Government increasingly appreciates the need for advisers.

Everyone at Aifa, including Chris Cummings, Fay Goddard and John Gummer, as well as those industry leaders who helped come up with the manifesto deserve a collective pat on the back. The difference from a decade ago is extraordinary. Contrast a situation where IFAs and their leaders were being berated for a refusal to compromise from the floor of the House of Commons to one where a minister attends a reception on the terrace at Westminster Palace to heap praise on an adviser-led initiative.

Money Marketing has not lost control of its critical faculties. Many of those “stubborn” positions were justified. The FSA is still the FSA, the RDR is still a big threat, markets are gloomy and the housing market could well see prices below what they were at the start of the year. This minister is much better than most pensions ministers of the past few years. He promised, for example, to compensate pensioners in bankrupted pension schemes and then secured Government backing to do so, to his credit. But we still have all sorts of concerns about personal accounts, for example.

We also hope that adviser leaders, having got their voice heard, can now deliver some concrete policy victories, such as change at the ombudsman. Adviser leaders must also enlist the support of advisers to deliver what they have offered to policymakers. But the manifesto is undoubtedly much more significant than a first step. In policy terms, it may even succeed in bringing IFAs in from the cold. The FSA should use the manifesto as the cornerstone of the RDR to ensure reform is genuinely industry-led.

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