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Nic Cicutti: A depressing ‘sulky teenager’ tendency

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 nic@inspiredmoney.co.uk

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Comments

There are 70 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Nic, you may not like Richard’s assertions and I also find his ‘I know better then you’ ethos rather tiring, but you miss the point.

    I also know no more now than prior to taking my exams. I also think that the whole RDR excercise simply proves that giving the unknowing theorist an American Express card and no liability makes for a sorry outcome.

    Capping commission would have resolved the ‘bias’ argument and retaining ‘unqualifed’ but proven ethical advisers would certainly have assisted the great bulk of the low net worth consumers.

  2. @Grey Defector: no disrespect, but I think you are the one who is confused. In fact, What Richard actually says is NOT that he knows no more now than before he took his exams. That might be a fair point and reflects the fact that over the years IFAs acquire more and more knowledge about their chosen subject.

    Even so, if that were the case, surely having an exam board validate that knowledge is a positive thing.

    No, what he is ACTUALLY saying is that he knows nothing more than when he took his FPC in 2002. That I find very hard to believe and, if true, is shocking. I would not want to go anywhere near an adviser whose level of knowledge is still at FPC level. Would you?

  3. Not as depressing as the nic cicutti column.

  4. I don’t want any cake – I work from the spare bedroom. It’s not pinned anywhere – I was using a metaphor.

    I hope we bump into each other one day – We can discuss this article then.

    I look forward to it.

  5. Boys, boys, calm down. It’s only a few weeks till the new year and then we will all find out whethere RDR will be a new beginning or the end of the world.

    I appreciate Nic has column inches to fill, but frankly the time for speculation and moaning is over. RDR is here, and many of us will deal with it, and some won’t.

    We shall all see the effect for real very soon now…just be patient!

  6. Nic

    I took a leaf out of Peter Herd’s book and I’ve got my SPS in the window and there’s been a queue out side my office to see me for months now.

    Hang on a minute there’s another one – “you’ll have to come back I cant see you til about the middle of February” !!!

  7. Nic, take the exams and then pass informed comment and judgement!

    As for the remark about knowing nothing more than when he passed the FPC in 2002, that is a cheap shot…We learn something nearly every day..You, me, the chap working in a factory! When did you last sit an exam by the way?

    Before you reply with having nothing to fear if his knowledge levels are sufficient, I would again refer you to my opening comment!

  8. Really Steve – How about if my knowledge was at level 4 anyway without the certificate?

    Like I’d been sailing for 30 years but did’nt have the captains exam?

    Do make assumptions mate. I did’nt lean anything as I already new it.

    The FSA deemed I had to prove it 0)

  9. @Steve: You’ve just re-made the point I did about the FPC. And I think you’ll find that the “cheap shot” about not knowing any more now than he did in 2002 was made by Mr Bishop, not me.

    As for myself, purely for my own edification I sat several exams, at degree level, in August 2010. I passed.

  10. “….from venerable (and venerated) Informed Choice executive director Nick Bamford ….”
    Surely this should read “Self Venerated”

  11. @Steve Bishop: or driving without a full licence? Would I want to get in a cab driven by you?

  12. We know that Richard arrived fully-formed and shiny.

    The more pertinent point, driven by this back and forth argument, is that exams do not make an adviser or prove that he/she is any good.

    If proof of this is required, look back 18 months to the firm that put 49% of a company pension fund into Keydata. Fund and company plus forty plus jobs quickly disappeared.

    The firm in questions was run by a chartered planner and another heavily ‘qualified’ adviser.

  13. @Nic – I’ve heard it all now. You accusing people of taking ‘cheap shots’. Thats made my day.

  14. My apologies, I meant Richard Bishop, who by the way is excelling himself on Twitter. Check out his Tweets on @MrRichardBishop

  15. @Richard Bishop: I’ve never claimed exclusive rights to “cheapshottery”. You are entitled to a slice of that pie as well. Indeed, you’ve just managed to swallow a large one of them whole, without it touching the sides. Anyway, as your Twitter feed tells us, shouldn’t you be at the gym beefing up your pecs?

  16. Disgraceful language on twitter. Do people realise that their clients can see this kind of behaviour on twitter from their ‘professional adviser’….even if they dont follow them?

    twitter just isnt meant for some people!

  17. I agree with Richard from a person who is not an adviser but works with IFAs to market them to the general public RDR is ridiculous in part as many individual will not want to pay a £600 fee for advise and many of these people will seek non regulated advice from now on with regards to pensions advice!

  18. Hey boys. Stop throwing the baby out with the bath water. I am still taking level 4 at the age of 67 and have been in the business for 30 years and will not have my SPS by the 31/12/2012. The reasons I am still taking it are personal, and will have to re re-gister when I do get them. As much as I do not like parts of the RDR, because it will not only put thousands of ifas out of work, it will also put people at providers, back office staff, suppliers etc redundant. Its here get on with it. If a couple of thousand people are made redundant at Comet, its plastered all of the papers woe is me, but nobody has publicised the thousands of people being forced out of work by the FSA attitude of not listening.

  19. I think Richard had a valid point, I was getting fed up with the whole FSA, RDR, FOS demands Etc etc and so after 24 successful years as an IFA without a complaint I have deauthotlrised and am off to pastures new. You would be surprised how many customer facing opportunities there are for skilled commuicators where you can just get on with the job without the baggage of Financial Services.

  20. Nic, what about the capping of commissions arguement, that seems to have got lost in this. It was a far more straightforward way of remunerating advisers, especially to the masses?

  21. “commission cap to get rid of the bias” the most relevant point made in this trail, but totally ignored by all participants since, and of course by those constructing the RDR!

  22. Although it did come across as a sulky article, i believe the main points are correct. In the majority of day to day advising activities, the extra knowledge gained (for a very short period of time like any intensive exams) is unneccesary. If a client wants an ISA, a term policy, PHI then you do not need to be level 4, FPC will suffice.

    Actually, with the PI policies now determining what we can sell within a network, the extra knowledge is even more irrelevant because anything out of the ordinary is out of bounds.

    And it is not a profession. Professionals do not have to account on a sale by sale basis of everything they do. Network IFA do.

  23. Blimey Nic! This is good, at this rate you may be able to fill pages for Money Marketing by just responding to your own initial piece. Talk about self-perpetuating…………your turn.

  24. “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?”

    I guess by the spring we’ll have a clearer idea how many have taken that option…..

  25. I agree with Nic’s main point which was if Bishop is so unhappy with the business, why is he still here?

    As for his hubris and arrogance over the exams. I have been in the business for over 45 years and when I took my exams 10/15 years ago (because we could all see the writing on the wall then, surely) I found that every now and again I came up with a fact or regulation which was new to me.

  26. Nic, you’re right on this.

    Those who are a success, and will carry on as such, don’t nag and try to discourage new entrants into this (soon to be) profession. Only losers do so.

    It is clear Bishop is just depressed with life. His tweets are a disgrace albeit humorous. He can’t write properly or get his message across without giving teenage attitude.

    Anyone who says they didn’t learn anything new from attaining diploma confirms it is frighteningly basic and that level 6 should be the norm.

    Now stop giving attention to this brat. Spotty teenagers are to be seen and not heard!

  27. @ Nic. “An entire structure erected by the FSA over several years and at a cost many millions of pounds …”

    And that Nick is really the point. It is not about Richard; it is not about selling papers, it is about the great British public who ultimately pay for all this. Will they see many millions of pounds of benefit? Sadly I fear the answer is no – the public has certainly not seen many million pounds of benefit from all the other great regulatory initiatives – indeed quite the contrary.

  28. If twitter tweeting is a realtime financial promotion, some of those tweets could make the compliance officer a little jittery…. and I’m not referring to the swear words.

  29. Nic, unfortunately for you Richard like most of us lives in the real world and is prepared to say how he feels not what he is expected to say.

    Richard describes how he has his “statement of professional standing pinned to the wall, next to my shiny level 4 Diploma certificate.”

    What the hell is wrong with that there are unfortunately a lot of advisers out there who would love to have their diploma pinned to the wall but despite having a vast experience in the industry mainly due to their age they do not have the capacity to pass.

    I would not mind betting that their knowledge is superior to new advisers that have passed level 4 and beyond.

  30. A commission cap would still make you an agent of the provider not your client. Commission is for salespeople, fees are for professionals.

  31. A commission cap would still make you the agent of the provider not your client. Commission is for sales people, fees are for professionals

  32. Cicutti beats the Bishop.

    Can you really deauthorise and head off to pastures new?

    I doubt it, ex-IFA’s will not be able to sleep well at night because there is no long stop.

    It is like being inadvertently caught in a web, where the FOS spider crawls slowly towards you.

  33. AnthonyHandbags ladies!!! 13th December 2012 at 11:54 am

    Handbags ladies!!!

    As an IFA I am resigned and passive to RDR… my main issues are as an employer and business owner RDR makes my business plan only worthy for the cross shredder… I still receive agency review letters from provider (2 weeks prior to implementation) threatening the switching off of renewal income should my clients fart or sneeze. I balk at the loss of Jobs, access to basic advice to the mass market and the spiralling costs to the industry, including regulatory and compliance costs all to save the estimated £400m pre annum consumer detriment. Proactive regulation including product licensing could have achieve a significantly more favourable outcome.

  34. @ Adam

    Exactly why there are so many CFPs/wealth managers/fee junkies who havent got a pot to p*ss in much less any clients !

  35. What would your customers think if they could see this squabbling?

  36. Frankly Richard Bishop’s article was a rant against the RDR lacking integrity and objectivity. The threat to IFAs and why the job is so depressing comes from many sources and only partly due to the RDR. In no particular order, let us list some of these other factors.
    Retrospective reviews and the wonders of hindsight. We work against a background of illogical and complex regulation introduced by a corrupted Parliamentary system producing crass legislation leading to regulators that are unaccountable. European and UK MPs are impotent, responding to the sound bites of the majority and ignoring the “persecution” of a minority. Then there are the absurdities of VAT which have always been present now compounded by the RDR. Not only is the cost of PII rising, it’s tail is now starting to wag the IFA dog. Then there are the rising costs to meet capital adequacy. Complaints and so called Claims Handlers make it easy for clients to complain, distracting us from earning a living. Unfair levies and fees are rising uncontrollably and unpredictably. We are of course not immune to other small business problems such as the rising costs of business rates, pensions and their administration, insurance, taxation and NI. We have to worry about Health & Safety legislation and employment law. What is the real cost of compliance and monitoring systems and do not forget those three letters – TCF.
    In the scheme of things the RDR is not a major issue for firms that have planned ahead and embraced it. For crying out loud, the RDR was signposted in 2006! Taking the point raised by Nic, we have not got rid of any clients. Clients may have walked away from us because of our rising fees but these increases are factors outside our control and only partly due to the RDR. I suspect many clients have been removed because firm’s have never looked at their business in a professional manner and the RDR was a catalyst to do so. As for the exams, this has all come about because we as a profession have never got rid of bad advisers or accepted the need to be more professional.
    And against all this, the value of our business is falling and the threat of the lack of a long stop hangs over all of us.

  37. Nic maybe if you worked in an industry where the rules are being constantly changed you might have be able to make your comments.

    By the way look at your own industry’s reaction with regards to proposed stricter regulation of the Press.

  38. Nick, having read some of @MrRichardBishops tweets, i agree with you, the language of a so-called ‘professional financial adviser’ is disgraceful. I’m actually shocked.

  39. I might point out there’s only person taking pot shots here. Well in fact three. Nic and his two mates who’s egos can’t stand some little IFA in Birmingham spoiling their little RDR party.

    I don’t remember slagging Nic off in my articles. IMO it was rant and not sulking. I’m still making a good living. It was a story from my heart based on frustration.

    Those moaning about name calling on Twitter please remember I didn’t slag anyone off. And anyone who follows me will now profanity is par for the course along with rants and general insults.

    Nic is not an IFA and I assume got paid for writing his article. I didn’t.

    Like I say my article was honest opinion and hurt no one.

    I’m afraid it’s in built in (some) journalists to slag off and belittle people in an unfair way. That’s what Mr Levenson said I’m sure.

  40. Dont forget the elephant 13th December 2012 at 12:45 pm

    ….the big one in the room is that advisers are not the agents of clients or providers – we are effectively the agents of the Regulator. A client cannot “opt out” from (paying for) the regulatory work we are obliged to do and so they are being forced by the regulator to pay additional fees/advice charges for work that may not “add value” at all, but which merely fulfils the regulatory hoops through which we jump incessantly and ultimately pointlessly.
    Why cant a grown up consumer ask me for my “opinion” as to which provider and which fund to stick this years ISA into, in exchange for a small £50 fee?..without me having to ask more questions, research, create documents, report the income in whichever category it goes, have liability forever etc etc.
    Where is the regulation that creates a competitive low cost advice landscape for grown up clients who are happy to mix DIY and advice and understand and accept that the world isnt a theoretical slice of perfection. If only we had real world regulators with the selflessness, creativity, problem solving skills and imagination to bring this about.

  41. @marty

    Whats you Twitter name?

  42. @FranciscoCheves – You need to get more Mrs.

    I assume you’re a women if you fainting at the sight of profanity.

  43. i am inclined to agree with Sam Caunt & the elephant too with regards giving an opinion which journalists can do without fear, but advisers cannot. i think MAS should be chargeable & then wecould provide a better service atless cost.

  44. Don`t let this guy wind you up so much. He thrives on stirring up controversy. Next time he writes an article just ignore it.

  45. Cor blimey ladies! Sam and Handbags have it right, along with “don’t forget the elephant”. I don’t agree entirely with Richard B but sympathise with his frustration. And sorry Nic, you firstly perhaps don’t know as much about IFA life as you may think and secondly espousing the benefits of regulation is a bit rich coming from a journalist this week! (I don’t know what you do day to day either).
    I did the exams years ago and have worked on fees / CAR for ages so have no axe to grind with the principles of the RDR.
    My beef is with the pig headed, arrogant, dogmatic, school boy bully tactics and obscene cost (in terms of money, time and ‘unintended consequences’) with which it is being implemented. As mentioned, commission bias (of which the FSA found no substantial evidence anyway) could be solved with commission caps and ‘clean’ contracts. Product area licencing (a la G60 and occ transfers) could have solved the ‘knowledge standards’ issue and allow those who wish to recommend £10k into an ISA to do so without a degree and at a proportionate cost and level of paperwork. After all, if DIY is so great, then why not have someone with ‘only’ FPC knowledge to advise in the appropriate areas – for an appropriate cost?
    As for sorting ‘ethics’ hmmm…… the crooks will still be crooks, even if the Press were regulated someone will still try to hack a phone, doesn’t mean Nic would – I’m sure he wouldn’t. The RDR however will actually drive more ‘under the radar’, after all, for all it’s snarling the FSA largely chooses to regulate those who choose to be regulated in the first place and it’s successor will continue to do so, with many more giving ‘unregulated’ and ‘generic’ advice though – whom the FCA will decide it is not their business to sort out should it suit them (or just too embarrassing – perhaps why the oft discussed register of mortgage and DI advisers has not emerged from the conveniency of the ‘long grass’). Others will just carry on as before, RDR, RO1 or not.
    Heaping more paper on the consumer, which the RDR is doing amongst other things to rectify the ills of FS, will serve no purpose at all. It has always caused a wry smile when ‘consumers’ claim they do not know what they are being charged – even if they were not told by the saleman what the costs are (and I agree this happens) we have had post sale disclosure for a couple of decades. What it actually means is that even where the adviser has been economical with the truth, they have not read the paperwork, forgotten what they read, ignored what they read, or when there is a whiff of ‘compo’ in the air, found it convenient to give that response, which is then picked up on by those who find it convenient to use that reponse to satisfy their own ill informed, ideologically driven ends.
    As for the latest barmpot scheme from the FSA in terms of KIIDs, I have in the last hour recommended a fund switch to an existing client and spent more time explaining that we have to give them this KIID but the risk score isn’t the same as what we use and discussed initially and the charges on the new fund are entirely incorrect as we are using a platform with nil initial, not 5%, charge and as I charge less than the ‘standard’ trail, the ongoing charge is also a load of irrelevant, inaccurate codswallop – but I have to give it to you and yes, you are paying for it somewhere along the line! You would have thought you couldn’t make this stuff up but someone has!
    So yes, I too am pretty fed up and despairing at the moment and I appreciate that other industries share much of the frustration of increasing red tape. I would just like to get on with the business of advising, planning and helping people in a proportionate, cost effective and meaningful way. The RDR is not achieving any of that whatsoever, it is making me better off – two RDR ‘fallout’ clients this week already – but I don’t think that was the intention of the quangocrats who dreamt it up or the desired outcome of the consumer who is paying for it all.
    Last one on ethics – Hector – strewth!

  46. @SteveBarrett has ruined everything and found me out. 0)

  47. Based on Mr. Bishops tweets, I for one would love to read one of his suitability reports – it could blow the cobwebs off my dry dull versions!!

  48. Whilst I have found Richard Bishop’s comments in the past misguided although slightly endearing, having just looked at his Twiiter postings to his 6500 followers, I now find him to be an ill educated disgrace.

    I’m open minded and will use bad language as much as anyone (I’ve seen Jerry Sadowitz in concert numerous times!) but the profanity in Richard’s tweets, as well as the casual racism, homophobia and poor level of literacy does not show Richard to be a great advert for our industry.

  49. @TobyLerone Ill educated disgrace? I have a MA? I have a Dyslexia – Sorry about that.

    Whos Jerry Sadowitz?

  50. RDR is better than Eastenders. I will miss the whole thing when the dust finally settles, the comments section will go back to normal again. Well unless Nic can come up with new ways of provoking outbursts of ranting.

  51. I’m not sure if it’s just me but the IFAs I have spoken to who are leaving the industry are 99% of the time the ones that realise the gravy train has reached it’s final destination.

    They are therefore terrified at the prospect of having to explain to their client’s the actual fee they are charging in pounds and pence, as well as the advice/service that they will be providing for that fee.

    Those of you still moaning (almost unbelievably) about exams have had more than enough notice to get these nailed. Lets all be completely honest with each other, the exams are an absolute breeze, and surely those of you with extensive experience in the industry were able to achieve the 65%!!!! pass mark with next to no study what so ever!

    RDR granted comes with many frustrations, however in the grand scheme of things it presents most quality IFAs with an opportunity to snap up the client banks’ (or clients) of these endangered industry dinasaurs, and take the way we as advisers are perceived to a far more professional, and hopefully profitable level.

  52. @Toby Lerone.- and it is for that reason that RDR is a blessing in disguise, as it will help to weed out this type of muppet.

  53. You can add tourettes to that list.

  54. I am extremely concerned at the effect this scuffle may have on public perception of IFAs. The Twitter stream is a disgusting outpouring of foul mouthed thuggery which would not be out of place in a Sun-readers gathering in Blackpool.

    Perhaps the provider of Mr Bishops Statement of Professional Standards may consider whether he has breached it’s Code of Ethics?

  55. Richard, being educated and having a qualification are not necessarily the same thing…

    Removing all the puff and mud in the comments there are still good and fair points being made about RDR, both for and against.

    Qualifications – on the whole a good thing but we should probably acknowledge that L4 is a base, higher qualifications should be required for most areas of advice, not just pension transfers and long term care, etc. From a practical point of view ethics training is pretty pointless, if it worked, there would be no crime, no bad lawyers, no bad doctors, you get the picture.

    Adviser Charging – generally a good thing where it affords transparency but commission can be transparent too, removing choice is a difficult thing to justify in a free market.

    Independent v Restricted – the new definition is largely a bad thing. How can a definition of independence itself be ‘restricted’ to only packaged investment products? What’s imprtant to a client is whether their adviser is their agent or that of a provider.

    RDR is going to be good for my business but I fear it will do harm, to financial services as a whole and many clients. Some good advisers will leave prematurely and very many small value clients will be excluded from decent advice. There were alternatives but entrenched positions and politics have ruled the day.

    One last question for Nic… from your comments in the article and tweets you appear to be friends or at least well acquainted with the Bamfords, are there any interests to be acknowledged here or do you simply support their point of view?

  56. “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.”

    This is a really incredible comment. Richard was presumably asked for his opinion and gave it-something which Mr Cicutti does every week although he presumably finds his own subjects. Nowhere does Richard do anything other than express his point of view and I am disturbed by Mr C’s several postings on his own, not very interesting this time, column.

    In fairness most of us clearly make a point of reading his comments which is a big plus point for a journalist. To paraphrase Hillaire Belloc “When I am dead, I hope it will be said, his sins were scarlet but his column was red” (Geddit?)

    Perhaps your next column Nic could be addressed at the issue of Hector Sants becoming the extremely well paid head of compliance at Barclays so soon after being head of the institution that was supposed to be…etc etc

    Surely a man of your talent could make something out of that. And it’s a much bigger target than Richard.

  57. Why are we reading this crap, has nothing else happened in the world today. Do they pay Nic for this?

  58. @Nic – the FSA are an unaccountable state organ who unlike the Police have no complaints commission or ombudsman service to refer to. They make it up to suit themselves. The law of unintended consequences follows them like a black dog. They have failed plurally to meet all of their stated objectives.

    @ Richard B – you actually may have learned little from the Level 4 quals as IMHO they are not actually all that difficult in comparison to the old AFPC G & J papers. Which body did you use for level 4?

  59. I haven’t time to research these questions so I will just ask: 1. Nic, are you an IFA? 2. How much do you pay out of your own income to the regulatory bodies, professional indemnity providers, compliance consultants? 3. Do you have a full fact find on Richard Bishop that would withstand scrutiny in support of your article? Did you present a report to your publisher detailing what you did not say and why you did not say it, as well as explaining why you did say what you did? Are you liable for the rest of your life (i.e. without legal long stop) for your comments?

    Just asking.

    P.S. You did not detail how much you were paid for your article either.

  60. Alistair Paterson 14th December 2012 at 11:55 am

    I must be getting old. I just completed the Level 4 requirement yesterday, with the LTC qualification. I went down the CII route and found these exams demanding, specifically because it simply requires a huge amount of study time.

    It’s not the relevant knowledge that is an issue. I had that already after 33 years in the industry. It’s having to learn the dates that now already expired legislative deadlines took place and being prepared from entire questions being based on one side bar comment from the study text. For me, it has been more of a memory exercise, rather than a knowledge aquisition journey.

    Anyway, it’s done now and that’s fine with me, but give it a rest those of you who are already sitting in nice employed (supported by training department) positions calling for even more examinations. Please, spare a thought for people like me in their early 50’s, who run their own small family businesses and for whom 2,000 hours of study time in a three year period is a major commitment. I don’t have any colleagues to pick up my work if I took some study leave, or attended a training course, which I didn’t, as I didn’t have time. I just had to muddle through, evenings, weekends, holidays. Add to that TCF and RDR and all of that in the past 4 years along with the 2008 credit crunch and you should realise this entire process has dramatically reduced our earnings, simply due to demands on my time.

    So, we now move into the brave new world of fee only advice. My point is this. Why change something that wasn’t broken? I suspect that anywhere north of Watford, there wasn’t a demand for fee only advice. The numbers we deal in up here normally have a zero removed from the end column, compared to the South East. I have always suspected some journo was ripped off by a dodgy IFA in London and we have all been paying the price ever since. Was it you Nic? Who did it to you? Just name them. Also, and as an aside, what degree was it you passed in 2010. I’m only curious if it’s relevant to financial services. I’m not trying to score some petty point.

    Anyway, I can only tell you my genuine experience. When we have offered clients fees or properly disclosed and discussed commission, my clients pretty unanimously choose commission. Of course, it still needs to be justified, but they prefer it to writing a cheque for our fee (often four figure sums) or to setting up a direct debit into my business account. Who knows, maybe their attitudes will change when fee only become reality, but I suspect some will simply go online at the lower end of the spectrum and those clients will be left to fend for themselves.

    Anyway, enough of this. I will close by simply saying that I really hope and pray that this latest regulatory frenzy is the last I have to endure before I retire in the next 5 or 10 years.

  61. Nic bashing the Bishop again………..

  62. Lowly Administrator 14th December 2012 at 3:21 pm

    As some of these comments have said, any clients/potential clients reading through this thread would most probably be a) confused about the subject matter, and b) disappointed that professionals with the level of qualifications some of the contributors have would be squabbling with each other in this way.

    I am an administrator for a life company earning significantly less than the ‘average’ wage and with only the standard CF1-5 exams, however I would be extremely concerned if my financial adviser was spending time commenting on an article like this when I may *potentially* be paying an hourly fee for his/her services and/or expecting a level of professionalism when putting his/her name to articles/comments that are available in the public domain.

    As an industry, financial services has taken a significant ‘bashing’ in recent years and ‘Kevin the Teenager’ style squabbles such as this are not going to help boost that reputation IMO.

  63. @Don’t forget the elephant.

    A very useful analogy; FSA/Elephant.
    And
    Just like the elephant in our room, we have to deal with the unconcscionable amounts of ORDURE that the elephant produces in a confined space.

    The whole thing stinks

  64. Richard it looks like you hve lost your chance to work for this company.

    You could offer financial “coaching” off the back of it.

  65. From the COHSE website.

    A COHSE Branch Secretary whose dismissal caused concern at COHSE Conference in June that he had been victimised for taking part in the NHS pay campaign, has qot his job back.

    Nic Cicutti, secretary of Essex Hall Branch in Colchester, was reinstated as a second-year student nurse at the mental handicap hospital after an internal appeal.

    Now Nic says he owes his job to the many COHSE members and officers who gave their support
    particularly Regional Secretary Keith Taylor, who represented him at the appeal in late 1982.

    Nic then a prominent member of the Socialist Workers Party,

  66. Nic I dont often read you blogs as after reading a few I found them depressing and tiresome. Stop IFA bashing and write something interesting and informative like a good journalist and I might start reading your comments regularly.

  67. RegulatorSaurusRex 16th December 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The extinct regulator is inundated with applications to deregister.

  68. Nic bashing the Bishop again….

  69. In actually think this is all a bit silly. There are different facets to the whole thing.

    1. I do agree that if Mr Bishop is fed up the logical step is to leave the business. I do wonder about his commitment anyway – working from a spare bedroom is hardly the peak of professionalism. Nor is it much of a financial commitment to his business. I guess he doesn’t see many clients at home and sill does home visits. I admit that I now too work from home – but from a custom built fully fitted office, to which my clients are pleased to come. I have never done ‘home visits’.

    2. I do understand much of the antipathetic remarks about exams, but like Francis I do agree that if you have been in this business longer than 10 years you must have been an ostrich not seeing the exam writing on the wall. I got to level 4 in 1988 (I entered the business in 1985) and continued to take exams right up to 2001.(Level 6). After which I did my gap fill in 2011. I say this not out of hubris, but merely to point out that I foresaw the requirement. The courses were useful anyway for CPD (which has actually been required for years). I do agree that those preening their qualifications are nauseous. In all the years I have been an IFA not one client or professional connection has asked me about my qualifications. Indeed it is as well to remember that the most highly qualified team that ever operated within financial services – containing a couple of Nobel Prize winners and several PHDs almost brought the whole financial system crashing down – LTCM – if you recall. Financial service qualifications are absolutely no indication of commercial or financial nous. I know some very highly qualified financial advisers who can only think in straight lines and have the commercial acumen of a dead cat. I never cease to be amazed at those highly qualified advisers who know all the answers, but don’t have a pot to pee in themselves. That doesn’t mean to imply that qualifications are valueless – they are not, but they are merely one aspect. A commercially adroit adviser without the qualifications is about as useful as the professor with no commercial sense.

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