As the industry bids farewell to Paul Smee, all eyes will turn to the succession.Rather than look at who it should be, perhaps we should consider what type of person is appropriate.
We have two models. One is Paul Smee, assured diplomat and lobbyist, who was very skilful at negotiating with the regulator and probably to a lesser extent with the Treasury.
He could at times use some strong language but he chose the timing carefully. He is credited with some significant victories notably the menu and a better working relationship with the regulator on the PI issue.
A contrasting model is provided by the IFA Association's Garry Heath, who was sure of the rightness of his cause, the damage being done to IFAs by the pension review and the price that regulation could exact if not constructed correctly.
Most IFAs believe in regulation but many also think the regulatory dice are stacked against them through the ombudsman, regulator and now compensation scheme.
Within that system what is the case for the arch diplomat now? Well if the FSA and Treasury were seen to be listening it might be conclusive – a bad system could be seen to be being made better on a day-to-day basis.
But the Treasury never listens to anyone except themselves while in the last few weeks the FSA has not exactly been a conciliatory organisation, preferring to use some strong threats against IFAs as soon as a problem reared its ugly head.
Perhaps the FSA should start listening to Aifa on the fee issue which threatens thousands of businesses or maybe the industry should look for a more robust opponent of an organisation that may be reverting to its bad old overbearing ways.