Following recent comments from Aifa director general Chris Cummings and Conservative Shadow pensions minister Niger Waterson questioning the RDR timetable, it appears certain industry voices have become preoccupied with creating an artificial divide in the adviser community.
To suggest the IFA sector can be neatly segmented between those who have got the required RDR exams or are confident of attaining them and therefore support the reforms and those who have not and do not is to paint and simplistic and unrepresentative picture.
As the level of debate on the Money Marketing website shows, the situation is far more complex. Many advisers who already have the required qualifications or are studying for them are worried about the potential damage to consumers and the industry of strict arbitrary deadlines after which some advisers would be banned from practising.
Many advisers see the huge benefits to their own businesses of increasing professionalism and are on the road to achieving the qualifications but this does not necessarily mean they accept it should be enforced on all other practitioners in a short timeframe.
Money Marketing has been a resolute champion of the drive to increase professionalism in the IFA sector. This week, we publish the second issue of our new publication Adviser Evolution, aimed at helping as many of our readers as possible reach the FSA’s RDR requirements.
But we remain extremely concerned about a sizeable number of experienced advisers, many of whom may only want to remain in the industry for a few years post-2012, who are worried about meeting the new requirements.
Genuine work-based assessments will help the situation and it must be hoped the FSA will listen to the strong representations it has received on this subject from a number of providers and, notably, the Personal Finance Society.
The FSA must also think seriously about Aifa’s proposals to reward advisers who increase their professionalism with regulatory dividends such as less regulatory scrutiny and lower fees, rather than enforcing strict deadlines.
Against this backdrop, the hostile comments made by FSA director of conduct policy division Sheila Nicoll last week about advisers being “in denial” appear misjudged. In fact, the IFA community more than anyone has its eyes wide open to the damage certain parts of the RDR reforms could inflict on consumers. Perhaps it is time the FSA stopped such bullying tactics and spent more time listening.