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Nic Cicutti: Advice gap could be all in your head

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In the past few years, one of the most significant developments of the “new media” all of us now use has been the explosion in the use of comments sections below news articles and columns published on the internet.

What is mind-blowing is how quickly all of us have adjusted to this new phenomenon. Just go online and look up any archived story or a column written, say, six or seven years ago, when posting comments was very rare.

Don’t they feel empty and slightly naked without passionately expressed views below them?

Apart from anything else, readers’ comment sections help carry the argument further, with practitioners – themselves experts in the field – contributing to a better-informed public debate.

One example is in the online responses to my column last week, where contributors discussed whether there really is an advice gap. The views stated all made interesting points.

One of those comments came from Julian Stevens, who has long offered thought-provoking opinions on the Money Marketing site.

Last week, in answer to the question of whether there is an advice gap, Julian gave the example of a small group of his clients with Standard Life pensions, which the company unilaterally “stakeholdered” in 2001.

The policies are mostly paid up and generate almost no commission. A further consequence of stakeholdering is Standard Life’s rules prevent more than 12 funds being used at any one time, with a limit of 20 funds being used over the entire life of the contract.

They are mostly paid up and generate almost no commission since Standard Life imposed stakeholder charges.

Julian says: “To do the right thing by those policyholders, we would need to renegotiate our service and remuneration proposition, probably by switching to a modern, platform-based contract which will facilitate adviser charging, access to thousands of funds [and] free switchability between them all.”

But the costs involved – arising from the need to meet regulatory requirements – relative to the sums involved in the pensions in the contract itself, make this work uneconomical for Julian. So the funds will effectively languish, unloved yet untouched, for many years to come.

Julian’s conclusion is that this constitutes “an advice gap, partially arising from the RDR but with its roots in the curse of stakeholder, borne of the government’s obsession with the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Sorry, but I disagree. My first problem with Julian’s analysis is that while I agree that it is important to offer “choice” in the context of fund selection, in reality finding the right asset vehicle is never that of researching between thousands of managers or their funds but usually a few score only.

To give my own example, when creating an equity income portfolio recently, with an emphasis on reinvested income and a good spread of assets, the selection rapidly narrowed down to a couple of dozen funds, if that.

When I compared my own research to that of other advisers, I was “out” by with more than one or two managers. It is not just that up to half of all managers run closet tracking funds, it is also the fact that many advisers have historically placed their clients’ money in middle-of-the road balanced managed funds.

But if Julian is really upset at the lack of effective choice between good managers and funds offered by Standard Life, that is an issue that needs to be addressed with the company initially or ultimately by the regulator and politicians.

I also want to pick up Julian’s point about the low commission-paying contracts which collectively only contribute £1,000 or so to his bottom line.

As a result, he says, there is little incentive for him to switch them to a new, potentially more expensive platform.

The truth is that this problem is not confined to stakeholder accounts. There are almost certainly millions of dormant personal pensions, mostly non-stakeholder ones and they
too will languish untransferred for years to come.

The reason for this is not the cost of the policy but its size and the potential income it offers the IFA receiving commission from it. So to blame stakeholder pensions specifically for the problem is inaccurate.

Ironically, it strikes me that – assuming these policyholders are still in need of an ongoing retirement strategy – attempting to contact them by means of a global mailshot would be one interesting marketing gambit.

Julian could point out that they have a stakeholder plan withering on the vine, offer a loss-leading fixed-price review and shift them to a new platform. This might not only bump up his income but kick-start a resumption of contributions, again good for his long-term business.

My key concern, however, is over Julian’s implicit argument that it is product regulation which is at fault over this issue.

Effective product regulation is difficult to achieve but, handled correctly, it would have helped prevent the huge FSCS bill facing IFAs as a result of Catalyst Investment Group’s recent default, a subject on which I know Julian has also commented on.

Rather than blame outside rules and regulations for the failure of prospective clients to seek financial help, advisers should focus on their own processes and what they can change instead.

Sometimes, the gap is not out there but in your head.

Nic Cicutti can be contacted at nic@inspiredmoney.co.uk

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Comments

There are 29 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. @Nic I couldn’t resist saying at least that means we have more in our head than hot air 🙂 often known as journalistic flatulance.
    I better read the article now in case I agree with it.

  2. Oh bigger, I actually agree with the content of Nic’s article!

  3. Especially the increase in opinions after articles of which I suspect I am one of the worst culprits. I think it is healthy as originally the angst in our industry was internalised,mthen it was on forums such as IFADU in my case and once we’d all realised we were all pissed off with the FSA and had enough and it was time to speak out, those of us who started doing it publicly like Alan Lakey and Evan Owen have helped advisers find their voice again, eve. if too many comments are still anon for my liking.

  4. “Julian could point out that they have a stakeholder plan withering on the vine, offer a loss-leading fixed-price review and shift them to a new platform. This might not only bump up his income but kick-start a resumption of contributions, again good for his long-term business.”

    Why should any IFA offer this service on a loss-leading basis? Consumers should be willing to pay the correct price for the job. A set price to review existing pension contracts would take into account the time needed to conduct the research and come up with recommendations. As an aside the fund choice on most stakeholder schemes is not that bad in relation to the needs of the average consumer. As such there would be no need to move to a more expensive wrap or investment platform.

  5. annoyingly, like Philip Castle, I find myself agreeing with most of what Nic has said in this article. However it would be rather illogical for Nic to suggest that regulation does not influence behaviour, processes and outcomes. Is that not exactly what regulation is supposed to do? So whilst we may not be using the right words to describe things my perception is that whilst the aims of RDR are hard to disagree with, the end results are proving less beneficial to the people who really matter – the general public.

    So I take issue with this part of Nic’s article :-
    “Rather than blame outside rules and regulations for the failure of prospective clients to seek financial help, advisers should focus on their own processes and what they can change instead.”

    I agree with the last part, yes we should constantly review our own processes to try and make sure they help the most people in the most economical way whilst remaining profitable. But actually, Nic, the outside rules and regulations will impact on how people access advisers in any market, not just financial services. So if you are trying to imply that we are moaning for the sake of it, or to cast blame on anyone but ourselves, well I will just have to agree to strongly differ with you.

    Regulation is specifically designed to moderate and control the behaviour and activities of advisers and other parts of the financial services smorgasbord. So if we question it then please do not assume it is out of self-interest. If I were to concentrate purely on self-interest I would restrict my comments only to those areas which jeopardise my own personal career prospects and income. And I would then say nothing since RDR has worked out rather well for me.

  6. Christopher Petrie 7th November 2013 at 10:53 am

    I understand the main points in the article and that’s fine.

    But why this idea that IFAs should run some large “loss-leading” exercise? Having reached QCF Level 4, and with commission banned, advisers are entitled to be viewed more closely as professionals than ever before. So why do unqualified people still feel the need to suggest we do work for a loss? Notably, these people are invariably being paid for the articles / presentations in which they suggest we work for nowt. Do they also call for dentists, architects etc. to work hard for a financial loss?

    Here’s a sustainable business proposition for IFAs: we offer Regulated advice, with all the consumer protection that includes, and we state in good time what our charges are – which should be sufficient to cover all costs and a reasonable level of profit. And people can choose whether to accept our offer or not.

    If people want us to work and lose money at the same time – then I’m out. Other than voluntary charity work which is another thing completely.

  7. @Chris P – Yes, but some of us are happy with our financial lot (or happy enougha s my wife might not be happy seeing my post) and the rules should support us in delivering a service to ALL clients. That was what Sir Hector the Undeserved was telling the TSC when he sat in front of them and said that simplified advice was essential to a successful RDR. Without it RDR is proven UNSUCCESSFUL by his own admission and why his Knighthood is best described in my opinion as “Undeserved” as it has been a reward for failure and one many bloggers like me warned him of as did the TSC in not so many words when they recommended a 1 year delay of RDR.
    We use Smartdraw to assist with our planning process and that has movable timelines for work with dependencies, FSA obviously didn;t use one while the TSC did as they like we identified that whilst we were pretty much ready pre RDR, the industry as a whole had issues still especially with platforms, wraps, consumer responsibility (longstop etc)

  8. The most interesting point in this article (and its base roots) is Nic believes there is no advice gap ? his argument based on the following 2 paragraphs -:

    Ironically, it strikes me that – assuming these policyholders are still in need of an on-going retirement strategy – attempting to contact them by means of a global mailshot would be one interesting marketing gambit.

    Julian could point out that they have a stakeholder plan withering on the vine, offer a loss-leading fixed-price review and shift them to a new platform. This might not only bump up his income but kick-start a resumption of contributions, again good for his long-term business

    Nic’s comments come straight out of the old sales managers handbook, market, knock on doors talk to them, explain the benefit, explain the need, you never know you may even get a top up on the premium its a huge opportunity !!! blah blah blah blah !!!

    The point is then, you had got a salary, commission, you could speculate to accumulate, now you discus our payment before you proceed ! (or should if you have any sense) so you don’t do a load of work for nothing ?

    I believe Julian’s point is (which I agree with) is yes there is work to be done advice to be given, however ? have we got the time and expense to “market” (as Nic suggested), visit, analyse, recommend, source and implement, in addition having to satisfy his network and army of compliance bods (inc the FCA), but that is only after the clients themselves actually want you to do all this work and YES pay for it ?
    The thing with Julian’s example is you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t, is the cost of not doing something (to Julian) ? is maybe worse that the cure ?

    I think its easy to pass judgement from the side-line’s, you have none of the risk, you have none of the cost, you don’t have the ramifications from your advice years down the line, you are not shackled bound and gagged by compliance and regulation.(well not yet anyway? your day is coming)

  9. @Christopher Petrie
    Agreed, we should not do work at a loss.
    I have three concerns with regulation in its current form.
    My first concern is that it is possible for bad practice to be hidden by good documentation and processes. By focussing so much energy on having appropriate documentation those with sharp minds and fuzzy ethics can appear whiter than white to the regulators. What really matters is what ACTUALLY happened in the conversations (and any correspondence) between adviser and client rather than hiding behind a skilfully constructed fictional file.
    So for all those of us who strive to say and do the right things we are lumbered with the massive costs of complying with producing reports and returns to the regulator and long detailed reports for clients which in all honesty are rarely read once the advice has been given and acted on.
    The second concern is that good advisers end up paying a levy for the bad practices of those who contravene regulations and decency. I do not know of many other industries where the good participants pay for the sins of the bad ones.
    These two things end up increasing the costs of operating as a good adviser, so the wrong regulation can end up penalising the client by driving up costs. That is why we question the shape and nature of regulation rather than just accept it.
    My last concern is that removing credit as a means of paying for financial advice has reduced accessibility to the average earner. If you did the same thing and removed credit financing in the following industries/activities how many people could become the following:
    *car drivers
    *home owners
    *business owners
    *degree holders
    *solicitors
    *doctors
    *accountants
    If we took away hire purchase, mortgages, business credit, personal loans and student loans how many fewer people could end up in one of the above categories?
    As an adviser I prefer to charge and receive fees, but as a car driver, home owner and graduate I am glad that I had the opportunity to have credit finance.

  10. Nic rather disingenuous…

    5 years ago a group pension paid reasonable commission out of a c 1.25% AMC; thus the cost of advice and support was shared between employer and employee and there was often no need for the IFA to invoice the employer.

    Now there is no commission & while AMCs have dropped to c .75% firms now have to pay fees of anything from £2,000 and above. Many employers are struggling so they choose not to pay fees, and the net result is their employees have trivial pension pots languishing in often poor funds with no one incentivized to tell them there is a better way.

    Of course many in FS have the skills necessary to sell their service and can demonstrate value to so these employers then decide they will pay fees, but frankly many of us are too busy! Decent advisers often have more work than they can cope with not least because much of the competition has fallen by the way side.

    So as a direct result of political interference and over regulation we have

    – Less advisers
    – A greater than ever need for advice
    – No cost effective way of delivering that advice for many employers
    – No overall cohesive strategy – viz last minute withdrawal of consultancy charging

    It has far less to do with advisers…

  11. Then “stakeholder friendly” pension example is anotehr good example of wehere it is networks and not the FSA/FCA at fault.

    Stakeholder to stakeholder does not require advice from a compliance point of view (just look at HL)

    Stakeholder friendly to stakeholder does not need advice (just look at HL)

    Stakeholder to SIPP apparently doesn’t need advice (I would dispute that, but just look at HL)

    Stakeholder friendly or single charged as above and so on…..

    Base on what HL get away with, a firm COULD offer a fixed price option for a transfer out of anything stakeholder friendly TO a stakeholder or a SIPP or a PPP or a wrap even.

    It’s all about process balanced with regulatory risk and because Sir Hector the undeserved didn’t sort “simplified advice as he told the TSC was essential for a successful RDR BEFORE RDIP, RDR/RDIP might as well be RIP for now as we have seen with the banks!

    An upcock if I ever so one.

  12. I personally thought that Julians example of the stakeholder pension wasn’t the best to use when trying to highlight the advice gap. In my opinion the issue he highlighted is probably more to do with the regulator fiddling too much with a specific product and the end result being that it’s not commercially viable to either provide it or advise on it. Another case of the regulator thinking they know best.

    This is, at a guess as i haven’t been through the archives to check, the third or fourth article in the last week or so to talk about the advice gap and whether or not it exists. I think that the reason this particular topic is getting so many column inches is that it’s very difficult to pin down what the advice gap actually is.

    I don’t think we can be so broad as to say that for all those with stakeholder pensions, or all those who earn less than £40k per year or anyone with less than £50k to invest there is an advice gap. The advice gap is different in different areas. I happen to live and work in the North East of the England, if i restricted myself to those with more than £50k to invest or who earned more than £40k a year i would go long periods of time without speaking to anyone.

    For me the term “advice gap” refers specifically to those who want advice and can’t afford it or those who should have it but don’t know it is available. I believe that the RDR changes the FSA/FCA has brought in is making it harder for those who were on the cusp of being able to afford advice to get it and less likely that those who didn’t know they needed advice will know in the future. For me this is an increase in the “advice gap”. Fundamentally RDR will have a negative impact on the public.

    As usual all the above is my humble opinion only.

  13. Readers’ comments are a complete and utter waste of time. Most people merely take the opportunity to trot out their own selective version of events relating to the issue of the day, or voice their personal narrow and largely uninformed opinions.

    A bit like this one really! :o)

  14. @Cue ball
    great contribution

  15. Of course there is an advice gap – it was an enforced advice gap with the abolition of commission. It does not take rocket science to work it out. We are in business to make money by doing what we do for a client. If the client wont/can’t pay us we won’t do it so they won’t get it. Therefore advice gap exists and it will get worse. Our regulatory costs keep increasing at ridiculous rates and so even to stand still we have to put our fees up, never mind fuel, electric, heating, additional levies, CCL’s, staff etc, etc. Is it any wonder that the public don’t want/can’t afford to come to us? I am a sole trader and I cannot afford/refuse to do any work for a client if I am going to earn less than £645. Take a client who is looking for a home for £100pm ISA – Almost 54% of the 1st year’s savings. By the time I take my networks retention (circa 12% which is taken before anything else), research tools “subscriptions” all of my regulatory responsibilities and FCA/FSCS fees and levies, PII etc into account I am down to approx £375 before my own business costs, tax & NI are taken into account. I probably net around £170. It’s hardly the stuff that will make me a millionaire is it, but the client only sees (and rightly so) the amount its costing them and mostly they are not in a position to pay that up front or don’t want to have. I don’t offer client’s a pay monthly option but I may take this over the shortest possible time via product-facilitated charge although this is not the norm.
    Long and short is that clients are less able to access advisers now than pre RDR because of the above, I know it, you know it, we all know it, you just won’t admit it and neither will the FCA as that is admitting their catastrophic experiment has been a total flop for those it was supposed to help. I guess you get paid to write these blogs as you also have to try to make a living, just like the rest of us, so you come with these things that really do wind people up.
    Try spending a week with a typical adviser to see what happens in the real world and then I await your blog headline the following week – “OMG I really had no idea what life is like in the real world” or words to that effect.

  16. @Marty – Whilst I agree with you and I am not doing it so this is just an off the cuff remark. regular savings to an ISA should be all about systems, not advice in a similar way to the example of pension transfers of stakeholder or stakeholder friendly. HL and Fidelity are very successful at doing no advised ISAs, we just need to get as slick as that and make sure the consumer ONLY sees the qualified adviser in the firm IF they want and are willing to pay for advice. Process, process, process. One day I’ll do it, but I’ll have to stop blogging first and get on with some work (in this case my Gabriel report which is sitting half finished and I am just playing at work aversion posting here)

  17. @Marty, I would question if anyone looking to invest £100pm into an ISA would actually need ‘advice’. That would surely go into a cash ISA with a the best rate sourced from a comparason site?

    Where does the advice gap line actually lie – when does someone require advice?

    Someone with 20k to invest (over and above an emergency fund and utilised ISA)? Someone with a 50k pension pot approaching retirement? Surely there has to be reasonable levels of assets before advice becomes appropriate? Not everyone requires advice and by trying to shoehorn anyone with £50 in thier pocket into some kind of advice proposition, we’re creating an unsustainable future for the industry

  18. I really do enjoy Nic’s blogs I find them thought provoking and they give me an opportunity to try and think about things from an alternate view point, however, I am starting to think that maybe I enjoy them more from a journalistic view point along with his writing style rather then the actual content.
    Marty’s comment above concerning Nic actually spending some time with an IFA to see how things really happen in our world, I dont know a huge amount about Nic but I cant believe that he would not have already sampled this life / working environment to give him a thorough insight – if he hasn’t then this would surely greatly enhance his written position on this very emotive subject.

    Taken from inspiredmoney.co.uk it says of Nic ‘ The business was formed by Nic Cicutti, former personal finance editor at The Independent and editor of FTyourmoney, the Financial Times website.
    A former qualified nurse, Nic has been writing and broadcasting on money and personal finance-related topics since 1992, winning many journalism awards in the process.’

    It is not clear where his working experience comes from to fully justify his thoughts on this issue of which he has had a fair amount of opinion in.

    As I say I do not know anything of Nic’s career, I am open for correction, but I am sure I will continue to enjoy his thoughts, if not more for the writing style then the content.

  19. @Philip & Mathew. I hear what you are both saying however Im afraid I am one of the old school (I have been around the block a few times) and believe everyone, including £100pm ISA savers or £100pm pension savers (self empoyed clients only of course) deserves access to advice. I certainly think most of us can beat £100pm cash ISA (no matter how good their rate is) over a 5 year period.
    My point was that I think it is disgusting that our costs are such that in order to make any kind of profit I have to set a minimum of the £645. If our costs were reasonable then I would be happy to stick with the margin I take on the £645 now, but only need to charge £300 or £350 for doing the same job. If the regulator would “play the game” and treat advisers as low risk from a reg view point and charge us accordingly then we could in turn reduce our own fees and by definition the advice gap would start to contract. Good luck with your GABRIEL, Philip

  20. @Marty

    I agree, if someone has an investment horizon (terrible use of industry jargon for which i apologise) then the use of something like a stocks & shares ISA should at least be considered for all clients. Providing they can commit to 5 years+ and stomach the ups and downs why shouldn’t someone invest £100 per month into a S&S’s ISA?

    My opinion is that RDR has made it more likely that such a client will find it hard to justify the cost of advice (£645 is a huge hurdle to overcome) and simply stick with cash savings. Currently in real terms they are going to be worse off in 5 years time.

    My humble opinion as normal.

  21. @ Marty – “deserves access to advice” does not mean needs advice. If like HL small IFAs can get their processes right, then why shouldn’t they be able to deliver a service when requested by a consumer, which results in a product being purchased which is suitable OR a loan repaid, based on a flowchart for instance or guided computer programme constructed by a firm which give regular opportunities for the consumer to interact at each stage and pay for advice or a question to be answered which the flowchart does not?
    If after going through all that and the consumer still wants to pay our fees or they don’t want to go through the process in the first place, then they can CHOOSE to pay more than we think they should because they value the human over the flowchart.
    I am doing it manually on occassions at the moment as I haven’t got the process right yet. This has worked well for trivial pensions just over the trivial pension limit (I had one which was £18,800!!!!) in that having explained my advice fees, shown him where he could look things up on MAS he came back to me 2 weeks later and said, HELP (I am pretty sure that was because he was illiterate and he was certainly IT illiterate and didn’t want to phone a stranger at MAS or did and they were as much use as a chocolate fireguard). I explained if he didn’t want advice, but wanted me to show him round the MAS website and take his instructions I would, so it was just a time cost and ironically commission was paid much to my surprise as I couldn’t tick the box for advice being provided as it hadn’t been. as to backside covering, all our meetings are recorded as MP3 files, so there should be no comeback of “you advised me to do this” as I clearly didn’t, it was an assisted purchase (a bit like going to Switzerland because you can’t do what you believe is right for you without help). OH and I don’t think suicide is right, but I don’t think it should be a criminal offence to hand someone something or flick a switch when they ask you too and I wouldn’t help.
    How old school are you then Marty, I got the feeling you were a similar age to me (48)?

  22. @ Phil – you are good, 49

  23. To be fair the “advice gap” as we put, may just be in the eye of the be-holder ? as Nick Wardle implies in his post of 12.42 and is difficult to pin down collectively what it is !

    From my minds eye I see it like this -: The vast majority of my clients have and are long standing some go back to my first few months over 22years ago, most if not all have gone through the savings to wealth period, you know little acorns to big trees,
    My point is the stating point is / has been getting less and less to now no existent (the little acorns if you will)
    That is where my “gap” is,
    One of my first clients started an £25 per month policy a 10 year endowment (boo hiss I hear you cry) the thing is 22 years down the line over 50k in various investments, pension portfolio of over 150k, mortgage nearly finished etc etc etc

    Now its hard to get started if nigh on impossible, as I have said before, go get a loan for 5k is a 10min job, go ask an adviser to save for 5k in x many years 6-8 hours later and £750 quid cost (enter your own amount please) guess what they go for the 5k now, pay it off over 5 years rather than save for 3 !
    That’s my “gap” RDR has all but completely taken away my bread and butter and the nice shelter of a big oak tree for the future !!!

  24. Good one DH – I became an IFA in 1992 originally, so 21 years later several of my very ordinary clients now have assets in excess of £1million (average house prices here are probably about £200k and average earnings are about £24k, so not an affluent area) These were all Acorns and the diseased trees as clients withered naturally while the Oak Trees grew and now are dropping fresh Acorns for my admin staff to support and once qualified take on as clients. With mass marketing you will keep taking on an unknown Acorn which may grow to an Oak Tree, but if you focus on your Oak Trees, your more likely to get another healthy Oak.
    Guess what, Gabriel report not completed, I really should stop blogging and get it off my desk, but it feels like Dutch Elm disease.

  25. @ DH & Phil Castle

    Nice to see you both using my description of the industry (little acorns mighty oks etc) DH you are partricularly correct in your description of ‘the gap’ and as I previously pointed out the reason why this industry will not be sustainable without the lifeblood of new SALES in the future. The future is and always will be your client like 100’s of mine who were once little acorns. Virtually all my mighty oaks grew from acorns I tended many years ago – just like you and anyone else with experience and a brain and not just a theorist using trendy words.

    Unfortunately, remove the distribution charges (commission by way of indemnity or the ability to factor over time) and you remove distribution. Precisely why we have no regular savings industry any longer.

    We do nothing at our peril – regulator/TSC/Government take note you have been told yet again.

  26. @DS – One of the things I banged on about in all my responses to the FSA discussion papers on RDR was not that removing commission was a bad thing per se, but that for many things removing one method of a client factoring advice costs and NOT replacing it with another would be a disaster. Not for us or OUR clients, but for the future of any savings culture long term. I suggested that as the FSA and now FCA does in it’s turn for adviser’s regulatory fees, a deal was done between bodies like the then AIFA (I was a member, I am not now) and the F Pack and someone like Premium Credit so that for regular savings related services, whether they be pensions, savings or even protection and mortgages, instead of the client factoring the advice cost, the adviser factored it by selling the ongoing deduction to someone as a factored up front figure to meet the up front cost of delivering advice to the client. It fell on deaf ears.
    Another analogy is when I first joined the TA as a spotted faced 18 year old, I couldn’t work out why one of the old hands when the Platoon commander asked if there wer any questions, always raised his hand and asked a question. Invariably I knew the answer to about 1.3rd of them, so thought he was wasting everyone s time until I asked him why he asked the question. His answer was, “Where you going to raise your hand to ask the 2/3 of the questions you didn’t know or were you going to stay quiet?” As I went up the ranks I followed his lead (I became a Sergeant and he never did), but I always asked the questions others were to frightened to ask and as with the FCA we as advisers need to ask questions even if we know the answer especially as half the time, the FCA don’t know the answers themselves.

  27. Let’s alter the descriptive here to regain some reality.

    Forget ‘advice gap’ let’s use pensions gap, protection gap, savings gap and maybe add a new one ‘common-sense gap’.

    A high proportion of those not saving or insuring is through apathy as well as ignorance. The strange thing is that when I speak with many of these people they become eager to solve the problem that they ignored or didn’t know existed.

    My God! I reckon I sold them stuff. Who would’ve thought it?

  28. @Alan – Agreed – What is needed when the products are not getting to the clients as needed? Oh yes a retail DISTRIBUTION review, not an advice review. What have we just had over the last 6 years? I think you will find it was a payment method, qualification level and some other issues review, but I don’t think there was a Distribution review somehow was there as if there was, they don’t appear to have achieved a good outcome for consumers.
    Fine for us advisers as we’ve moved up the food chain and can legitimately not provide a service to those who cannot or will not pay, BUT it hasn’t achieved it’s stated aims. (as we told Sir Hector the undeserved…..)

  29. @ Philip
    I agree with you. The RDR was a review of everything surrounding distribution but did not focus enough on distribution to the end user. I think it is beyond doubt that the FSA consulted the industry, but the trouble was they consulted on the basis of a set agenda when they had already pre-formed their opinions and conclusions. The other problem is that the FSA did not realise that there is not a one size fits all solution. Different solutions suit different people and different circumstances. They took the conflicting views of different types of advisers to be evidence that we cannot agree on anything and so decided that we need to be told what to do. Whereas in truth the presence of different views (and strongly held views at that) is largely down to the fact that different clients have different requirements as to how they gain access to advice and products. Some of us are dealing in a space where RDR had no impact at all on how things were being done. For those dealing with clients who have already acquired wealth, RDR need not have touched them at all. But for those dealing with other folks who are the “have nots” the imposition of RDR means they can no longer provide the type of access to advice and products their former clients need at a value-for-money price. In reality most of the strongly held views expressed here are right but are also wrong. It is a shame that RDR took away the ability to distribute advice/sales/products to those who maybe need it most to help them improve their long-term financial position.

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