From the minute I first saw him in the telly back in the 1980s, I’ve always loved Harry Enfield.
I loved his “loadsamoney” act. Even better, I’ve got a huge soft spot for Enfield’s skits about sulky teenager Kevin going through his rebellious phase.
What I hadn’t bargained for is an independent adviser to display exactly the same teenage characteristics as Kevin. I refer, of course, to Premier Practice director Richard Bishop, who wrote an article for Money Marketing online last week telling us he is “fed up” being an independent adviser.
The other week we had the Londoners to stay, an adult and two boys. The grown-up was fine, it was the kids who were the problem. They spent half the week either fighting each other for their dad’s iPad or slouching on the settee, using my internet connection to watch LOVEFiLM movies on the telly.
Our neighbours Mark and Sarah are keen sailors and they kindly offered to take the kids on their boat for a day trip to the Isle of Wight. The oldest managed to show vague enthusiasm for the idea, but the youngest declared: “I’m not going”, and stormed off in a sulk.
Eventually, a level of Machiavellian cunning that I cannot even begin to describe here but thankfully did not involve any aversive strategies, they both went and – surprise, surprise – loved the experience.
Now, as the person whose scheming actually worked, I ought to be gratified by the fact that we managed to get both kids, especially the youngest, out on a boat for the day. In fact, I found myself resenting the effort involved.
Part of me wanted to say: “You know what, this is my house. I’m trying to make your time here more interesting. If you don’t like it, why don’t you bog off back to London.”
The only thing that stopped me was a vague understanding that my young London guests were going through a phase, this was all part of them growing up.
For Richard Bishop, however, there is no such excuse. Richard describes how he has his “statement of professional standing pinned to the wall, next to my shiny level 4 Diploma certificate.”
He manages to sound sarcastic about the whole process while at the same time plastering it on his office wall where, presumably, his clients will see it. In other words he wants to have his cake and eat it.
He talks about how, having sacked 30 per cent of his client base and moved to a fees-based practice three years ago, he is “no more or less ethical now than five years ago.” He does not “sell dodgy funds, recommend investing in timber funds or disservice my clients because I only had A’ levels in financial advice.”
Adding further to his litany of Kevinisms, he then goes on to assert: “The RDR is a complete waste of time, it will result in less advice and the objectives could have been met by simply capping commission. As for the level 4 exam standards, I can say unreservedly I know no more now (academically speaking) than when I passed the financial planning certificate in 2002.”
Well, that’s it then. An entire structure erected by the FSA over several years and at a cost many millions of pounds in regulatory time, not to mention paper and ink, purely so that Richard Bishop – and no-one else in the world – might learn something from it. Unfortunately for all of us, he hasn’t. Oh dear, game over.
I find comments like Richard’s profoundly depressing. He writes as if the RDR was devised for his sole benefit and not to raise standards across the industry. What an incredibly self-centered attitude to take.
Richard also talks about “ships going down” while at the same time admitting that over the past three years, he has in large measure been putting into practice many of the very same RDR requirements that the FSA is asking other sections of the industry to observe.
Has it harmed him to go down the fee-charging route? He doesn’t tell us, although it presumably can’t have done if he’s stuck with it in all that time. Yet despite his lack of clarity over a central aspect of the RDR, Richard remains “fed up”.
As for Richard’s claim that he is no more knowledgeable now than before he passed his FPC ten years ago, that’s a bizarre things to say. Back in 2002, I passed Parts 1and 2 of the FPC after attending a week’s CII refresher course. If he is seriously saying that he knows no more today than he did then he in the wrong profession.
Perhaps in an attempt to dispel some of Richard’s doom and gloom, Money Marketing also carried an online article from venerable (and venerated) Informed Choice executive director Nick Bamford to explain why he is not “fed up” with being an IFA.
And all the time, as I was reading Nick’s reasoned attempts to talk Richard back down off the wall, I kept wanting to tell the financial industry’s answer to Kevin: “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just bog off?”
Nic Cicutti can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org