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MM leader: Can advisers breach the lobbying chasm?

Natalie Holt website

When you examine what now deposed Investment Association boss Daniel Godfrey was asking of members, it does not seem like that much of a stretch. The trade body’s apparently controversial statement of principles was a voluntary code of conduct where signatories pledged to, among other things, put clients’ interests first, take care of clients’ money diligently, only offer funds that add value and make all costs and charges transparent and understandable. It is the last point in particular, alongside the IA’s work on dealing commission and executive pay, that proved too much to bear.

IA chair Helena Morrissey is at pains to stress it was not what Godfrey was proposing, but the how, that caused members to be so vexed. I will let readers be the judge of that.

Since the IA crisis blew up, the trade body has been quick to push out a press release “reaffirming its commitment to transparency”. In the spirit of that transparency, Money Marketing has tried to speak to no less than 18 fund groups and providers about the fallout from Godfrey’s exit, the IA’s priorities and what its future agenda should look like.  All either declined to comment or reverted to pre-prepared press statements. This includes interview requests with Godfrey, interim IA chief Guy Sears or anyone else from the IA.

It is understood M&G and Schroders signalled their intention to leave months ago, with other fund groups also unhappy with the direction of travel. No doubt there have been some difficult and uncomfortable board conversations over recent weeks and months.

As brand guru Lucian Camp points out, trade bodies have the unenviable task of pleasing all their members all of the time, while also assuming an acceptable public face in front of policymakers and consumers.

With so many different stances on key battlegrounds such as pricing and distribution, it is interesting to hear that increasingly the Government does not want to hear from a chaotic rabble but instead is seeking out views from individual big brands directly.

There is a chasm opening up among the provider lobby, not just at the IA but also for those breaking away from the Association of British Insurers.

It may be optimistic to suggest, but this may be the opportunity for advisers to fill the breach. In the context of designing an advice market that works better for consumers, the pushback on transparency may have ultimately weakened the fund groups’ hand.

Natalie Holt is editor of Money Marketing – follow her on Twitter here

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The very first sentence of this article tells the beginning, middle and the end !

    “When you examine what now deposed Investment Association boss Daniel Godfrey was asking of members, it does not seem like that much of a stretch” !

    You are so very right Natalie, it isn’t much of a stretch, however if I consider where I (personally) have been, and the journey regulation has taken me over the past 10 or so years, there have been some very major changes with no rest bite in-between, so when you are constantly bombarded with rules, processes do this do that (even from our trade bodies) the smallest of things do seem massive……… maybe IA’s members (I’m sure they do) feel or have felt the same, so is it any wonder people throw there hands in the air and shout “sod off” when things may seem, no big deal ?

    Its always the little, or simple things that break the back of the camel !

    I wonder if Mr Godfrey is sitting here now thinking “it wasn’t that much of an ask, was it? ” ………… its seems obvious now, the members thought it was !

  2. @ D H – Correct. It is so many little things that get added so regularly that we end up with a monster of something. The creators of such things really have no concept of the effects of the small changes (as they see them) and eventually the last small thing is what collapses the bridge.

    Still not to worry, its almost Friday and time for a few toots to get ready for a great weekend of rugby

  3. DH ~ What’s a “rest bite”? Sounds like lunch. D’you not mean respite?

    As for the effects of the FCA’s endless imposition of ever more additional rules, requirements, procedures, processes and everything else, it is indeed a case of the final few straws eventually breaking the back of the beast of burden. The trouble is that those who devise and impose them all refuse to recognise their cumulative effects. From their blinkered perspective, i.e. not looking at, let alone recognising, the wider canvas, it’s a self-justifying programme of perpetual progress, improvement, accountability (never yet the FCA’s forte when it comes to itself) and all the rest of it. Never mind the expense, never mind the collateral damage, never mind the increasingly turgid mire into which we’re all being relentlessly pushed down. This is progress and we must never be seen to be laissez faire. We [the regulator] can never be seen to be standing still or allowing the grass to grow under our feet. We’re on a mission and everyone else must either get with the (our)programme or GTF out of our way. Many already have.

    Yet still, in spite of all this, the major motorway pile-ups and assorted cock-ups continue apace because the regulator seems to be constitutionally incapable of prioritising the allocation of its resources, massive though those resources are, and the advice sector is the target with the least ability to fight back.

    But now, the Treasury has woken up to the reality that government and regulatory policies are in direct conflict with one another and that these conflicts are NOT serving the best interests of either the industry or its clientele. At last, the regulator finds itself under the cosh from a body that it can’t ignore or thumb its nose at (it has tried, though). A good few doses of its own nasty medicine, in the form of a raft of hatchets and sledgehammer reforms, are well overdue and may finally come to pass.

    • Sorry Julian, where i come from, it means just that, no time for lunch !
      I could have been clever, and said I wrote phonetically, as we know the FCA bods read these comments, and we know they like Janet and John, they think no-one else but them has a brain, and may be able to think for themselves !

      I keep waiting for a directive or at the very least consultation on how to dress myself in the morning !

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