When I’m about to sit down to Christmas dinner I wonder if I’ll find myself expectantly awaiting the dawn of a new era in the personal finance industry.
If I glance at the fat goose roasting in the oven I may conjure up an image of a bloated CII stuffed with millions of pounds of member exam fees and subscriptions. Recession-proof until now, as Bruce Forsyth would say: “Didn’t they do well?”
Looking into the new year it will be interesting to see what happens to revenues and whether the CII will revert to passively servicing the needs of advisers, like an institute should, or whether it has grown into a revenue-hungry beast in search of yet more ways to charge fees. It is worrying that its declared surplus is small on such high revenues.
Arranged around the Christmas goose will be parsnips – or advisers. Some will be overcooked having not done their exams. Others will have been in the industry too long and simply had enough.
Another group will sit happily alongside the goose, embracing the splashes of fat having transformed their businesses into viable propositions.
And there will be plenty in between: some curled up at the edges after a tiring year, some shrunken in order to move forward and some going through a crunchy phase as high costs take their toll.
I love all types of parsnip but sometimes you get an awful one.
Meanwhile the pigs in blankets – the FSA – are never far away. They are very complementary for some businesses while others would not even have them on the plate.
Everything in small doses, I say. Too much interference and you’ll spoil the dish.
It has been a good few years for the FSA too – another recession-proof organisation – so I’m expecting a double wrapping of bacon.
Then there are the sprouts – the traditional product providers – some of whom enhance the plate while others just leave you with wind. Those gassy sprouts are liked by very few and seem scarce these days.
Carrots play a key part on the plate: they are the eyes of advisers and suppliers, helping them to see the future. Without them we would be too accepting of the other colourless items.
As the gravy – the RDR – gets poured over everything, it is clear how fine the line is between food being complementary or just a suffocating mush.
Finally the Christmas pudding arrives, soaked in brandy and ablaze, a drunken commission mountain that is no more.
Oh what a silent night!
When the Christmas cracker goes bang I wake up in a hot sweat, for if we are not ready the joke will be on us. After all, we have had six years to prepare.
Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands