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Menu decision – first adviser reaction

IFAs have expressed initial relief at the FSA’s decision to get rid of the menu but they are very worried about what may replace it.

Some are also exasperated that it was introduced in the first place and what it has cost them and demanding a refund from the FSA. Others believe it lets banks off the hook because they will no longer have to provide a total for their costs known as commission equivalence.

Falcon Group chief executive Allan Rosengren says: “I think it’s a step in the right direction. They have been relatively cumbersome documents – they haven’t achieved their objective and they’re also quite difficult to understand for clients. There is now a question mark however over what they are to be replaced by.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “Thank God for that. What an absolute waste of time and energy. If a client comes in for a mortgage and life insurance I have to give him 90 odd pieces of paper he
probably won’t read. But will the FSA put something else in its place? That’s the worry.”

Byrne Williams managing director Tony Byrne says: “This is FSA classic ineptitude. It’s a complete joke – making us spend loads of time producing these meaningless documents that none of our customers read and then scrapping it a few months later. Sack the whole lot of them. The FSA should be closed down. It’s pathetic.”

Jamieson Financial Management principal Bruce Jamieson says: “I do not think it makes a lot of difference because no-one ever reads them anyway. But it is probably better for the banks as it lets them off hook and is yet another example of the Government forcing us to spend time and money introducing something only to then pull the plug.”

Others advisers say that while the menu was a good idea it was never going to achieve what it set out to do i.e. encourage customers to shop around.

BestInvest senior investment adviser Hugo Shaw says: “Though the idea may have been sound it never really looked like it was going to achieve what it set out to do. It never gave the proper picture of what was going to happen and now all this factual work is meaningless. The public never recognised the helpfulness in differentiating one company from the next and if anything it was doomed from the start.”

Norwest Consultants principal Harry Katz says: “They knew from the outset that this was going to run into difficulties and their obstinacy has just had the effect of wasting our money (It’s not theirs – we pay for them) and our time.
“To make matters worse they instituted research about 18 months to 2 yrs ago about changing the documents. I was involved in a ‘focus group’ and brought up the point that MIFID my make it all redundant. The response? We are gong ahead anyway.

“So once again – whose head will roll? Will we even get an apology? What will be the result of the Retail Distribution Review? I hope that they won’t institute changes only for them to ultimately be ruled out by the EU. Why do we bother to pay all this money to a regulator when we are being regulated from Brussels for free. This seems to be one occasion on which we can be thankful to Europe!”

Anand Associates managing director Bhupinder Anand says: “What a fiasco. Isn’t this just typical of the FSA which has wasted time and resources. I am pleased because I think it was a complete waste of time and actually in the sales process it hindered the relationship with a client rather thean helped it. You don’t get a relationship going by throwing jargon and paper at the client as they walk through the door.“It filled customers with fear. I say good riddance to it. It should never have come about. I would be surprised if anyone said it was a great tool. Dear FSA, can I have a refund for my costs? Who should I address my invoice to? This is yet another U-turn. What are they going to do next?”

Syndaxi Financial Planning managing director Robert Reid says: “I am not surprised. I thought it was a mess from the start. It was designed for the very people that would never use it, ie. the insurance companies. I am not impressed given the amount of effort that everyone has put in. I only ever interpreted it as a temporary measure.”

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