The prospective audience gathers its collective breath and waits in anticipation for the FSA, in its clown garb, to stumble over the bodies lying in its path. Will it notice the small IFA, barely breathing due to a mix of regulatory grief and economic woe which has beaten him to the canvas?
Will it glimpse the bancassurer prostrated on the floor and howling in despair? Will it comprehend that the banker is only playing possum and in reality is merely awaiting the opportunity to grab a chunky portion of those consumers which were formerly the province of the small adviser?
Perhaps circus is an inappropriate term, perhaps a more accurate description is farce, a Whitehall farce. The dictionary definition is “a series of improbable events that caused grief at the time to everyone involved but could—perhaps only with distance or hindsight—be considered comical.” Let’s be clear, apart from highly paid regulators and salivating bancassurers, who is laughing?
The HBOS head of product development recently articulated what we all knew, that many consumers would be left adviser-less by the RDR and that bancassurers would be ready to mop them up. He further stated, surely with tongue-in-cheek, “We have the ability to deliver consistently good outcomes”. This fiction deserves a rejoinder and is worthy of an article in its own right. Suffice to say that anyone with an inkling of financial awareness will recognise tosh when they read it.
Otto Thoresen recently waded in and confirmed another view long held by advisers, that the only beneficiaries of the RDR would be high-net-wealth consumers who already make use of IFAs. David Cox at Suuqea and Richard Howells at Zurich have also commented on the potential for vast reductions in the adviser population.
Some time back, I likened the RDR to a slow-motion train crash where the spectators observe the unfolding drama from a distance and stand, mouth agape and helpless, as the engine bursts into flames engulfing them and other innocents.
Does the FSA listen to industry commentators? Does it pay any heed to the gloomy prognostications? Or does it plough on relentlessly with unproven theories that will result in the destruction of an industry?
June will witness the final act when the consultation paper is released. Vested interests are lobbying relentlessly and pitching their tents at E14. All those who oppose the numerous anti-business measures announced within the feedback paper should make their individual views known. Don’t leave it to the likes of the IFADU and Aifa as this type of silence implies consent. Let’s hope the RDR farce closes after its poorly attended two-year run.