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Nic Cicutti: Are doctor’s orders right for IFAs?

One of the side-effects of writing this column is that I often get inveigled into having discussions with IFAs who write to me with responses to my comments.

Generally, I try to shy away from responding at length, otherwise I would never do anything else. But a few weeks ago, I saw a reply to my column of April 5 from Dick Carne, director of Southampton-based Asset Management IFA.

An Aifa council member who also sits on the FSA smaller business practitioner panel, Dick wanted to pick me up on two issues – the role of journalists such as myself and that of regulators.

He wrote on Money Marketing’s website: “I would like to challenge you to utilise your influence…to more purpose and benefit to society in general and the financial services industry in particular.

“I believe that 23-plus years of financial regulation have done little to improve the savings, protection and pension habits of the nation. In many respects, it has made these situations worse.

“When I have challenged the FSA on this subject they show a complete lack of interest because the law does not require them to be in any way cognisant of the effects of their regulation on these key areas of behaviour. Can you help me please?”

A fuller response can be found on the Money Marketing site, under Dick’s original post. But the gist of what I wrote was that what he was asking is not my job.

Moreover, while I recognised many of the positive contributions of IFAs – despite Aifa’s own failure to publicise their good work – it is not my job to be the ally of advisers against the regulator.

I saw my own role as sparking discussion within the IFA community, not because I measure “success” or failure” in terms of the number of responses received but because debate and the clarifying of people’s views is important. This applies irrespective of whether people agree with what I say.

Dick then got in touch with me privately to continue the debate: “I fail to see the point of regulation which is so tough that people end up doing less of what is good for them. If doctors were regulated in the manner that IFAs are, the health service would grind to an immediate halt, they would only be able to see a dozen patients a week.

“Yet they are dealing with life and death on a daily basis, a subject arguably much more important than people’s money. You might consider the medical profession’s track record to be better than ours but there have been a number of cases of serious negligence and, of course, one remembers Harold Shipman who murdered hundreds without detection for many decades.”

An interesting point. The problem with it, even if we accept a post-qualification equivalence between doctors and IFAs, is that medical students have among the best academic brains in the UK. You need A-grades in every A level to enter medical school.

Second, they then undergo many years of arduous and effectively unpaid training to do the job they do. Third, when they finally begin to practise in their own right, they are paid a regular wage, not a commission.

That means the public is generally prepared to trust doctors, knowing they will by and large be acting in their best interests even if they make mistakes, which they do on a regular basis, they won’t try to give you a certain treatment because they have been paid more commission for it by a drug company, for instance.

Hence the need to regulation of their day-to-day activities is less, although from my own direct experience, there is quite a lot of ex post facto reviewing of their activities when they get things wrong, from the BMA and their employers among others.

In terms of the FSA itself, Dick’s argument – that the failure of people to save more is caused by too-tough regulation – is also focusing on the wrong issue.

The FSA has long seen its role as that of giving consumers more confidence to save by knowing they will be protected in the event of them engaging in a financial transaction.

Whether the regulator has been effective in this aim is debatable – I don’t believe it has – but that is about as much as I would want the FSA to take on board.

It should not be the FSA’s role to improve the nation’s savings habits. That is the Government’s role, if only because it is the Government that determines the role of the state in terms of the taxes it levies and what benefits it pays out.

Ironically, it has been the FSA’s failure as a regulator to prevent the major scandals of the past 23 years that have created an unwillingness to save. The FSA is always having to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

PPI, for example, is a case in point. Similarly with other scandals, not all of which were caused by IFAs but as a result of which IFAs have been indirectly tarnished.

For Dick to argue, as he does, that the FSA should “apply a litmus test to every aspect of new regulation – if it is likely to have a negative effect on savings behaviour it should not proceed”, seems to miss its target. What do you think?

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

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Comments

There are 43 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Exasperated Me 3rd May 2012 at 9:20 am

    “Third, when they finally begin to practise in their own right, they are paid a regular wage, not a commission.”

    That isn’t strictly correct, in many cases their regular wage is based upon the number of ‘clients’.

    They can also benefit from ‘subsidies’ handed over by drug companies.

    What do I think of a ‘litmus test’ for new regulation? I would welcome anything that counters the perennial issue of unintended consequences, of which there are many.

  2. Simon Webster 3rd May 2012 at 12:30 pm

    “Ironically, it has been the FSA’s failure as a regulator to prevent the major scandals of the past 23 years that have created an unwillingness to save.”

    That failure is the beginning, the middle and the end of any FS regulation debate. RDR will not change the situation one jot and nor will rearranging the deckchairs in relaunching FSA with a new name.

    A hugely expensive and almost exclusively destructive fiasco on a grand scale.

  3. Nic for once I find myself not wanting to slap you around the face with a fish for being a wind up merchent. The fact is a simple one. The FSA should have a statutory obligation to only act where it is in the consumers own interests for that action to proceed. If it is not in thier interests then it should not happen. If the FSA make their their decision and find out later it is flawed they should retract it. The law needs changed so that they MUST be cognisant of the effects of their regulatory actions has on society. It is only common sense, not rocket science. There you go. you asked for my thoughts – you have them

  4. “Third, when they finally begin to practise in their own right, they are paid a regular wage, not a commission.”

    Interestingly, in America, Doctors/Hospitals get paid from the claim on insurance policies and they get paid more for certain “jobs”. For instance doing a c-section rather than a natural birth. Which is partly why over 30% of mothers in the USA are having c-sections rather than the 5% to 10% rate that would be expected.

    Can we trust Doctors!!

    Anyway, what’s wrong with commission?

  5. Patients dont have to dip into their pockets to pay the doctors salaries, if they did, less people would see the doctor and that`s what is going to happen after RDR to middle England. Lastly, people see the doctor because they want to. Most people dont want to see us because they know we will try and persuade them to do something they know they should be doing for their own benefit. You watch the fall in sales after RDR. The loss to the city alone will be billions!

  6. Patrick Schan 3rd May 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Yet again Nic Cicutti is showing his naivety. This is not a good trait for a journalist.

    Many patients are sent letters requesting they have their blood pressure taken and the doctor gets paid for each one that does, even when they go to the surgery and stick their arm in a machine without seeing the doctor. They also get paid for each flu jab they do and for many other things.

    I used to have a friend who worked as a drugs rep and she was regularly taking GPs out for (very nice) dinners with bucket loads of wine, among other perks.

    And what about the senior consultant that paid out backhanders to the staff to look after his private patients, thus taking them away from the people the NHS patients.

    I am pretty close to the medical profession and some of the things I hear would come a surprise to, well, certainly Nic Cicutti.

    Of course they are not all bad are they?Just like journalists.

    On that point maybe Journalist need to take more exams. If they had, then we would never have had phone hacking would we? (I am joking of course)

  7. Nic Said “I saw my own role as sparking discussion within the IFA community”

    Admit it Nic, you just like to stir us up a bit, mainly because we have become complacent and comfortable with out role.

    When you are in a rut and a wagon comes along (the FSA) threatening to run you over, you either get out of the rut, or get crushed as it passes by.

    I of all people hate to admit this, but these exams, albeit virtually useless as far as demonstrating my professional and ethical approach to serving my clients needs, have motivated me to become better than I am at what I do, although I always believed I am good at what I do in any event.

    We all need to change and the first port of call is to change our attitudes to clients and stop dealing with those who can no longer afford to pay us.

    Trouble is, too many clients expect the services with no financial pain up front.

    Just wait until the consumer lobby wakes up to the fact that the cost of advice has risen beyond all expectations due to the profiligate spending of our regulator.

    The manure will then hit the fan and spread over all the industry in a blanket of superating stench.

    As opposed to “commission hungry” substitute “Fee biased” (Yes Biased)

  8. Scott Taylor-Barr 3rd May 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Sad but true – the FSA has managed to produce a raft of “protections” that result in a huge swath of complex and confusing paperwork; all designed to inform the consumer, but that are never read by them.

    I am afraid most of the paperwork produced is by solicitors, for solicitors – the poor folks actually takinig on the financial products/advice seem to get forgotten in the FSA’s crusade to make everything “safe”.

    The worst of it all is that many of the initial ideas are good ones; but that initial idea is then lost in the implimentation.

  9. You know sometimes I can’t tell if Nic is serious when writing an article or if it’s a wind up.
    This one , definite wind up.
    Isn’t it Nic ?

  10. How naive you are Nic if you think that doctors don’t prescribe certain drugs because of the benefit to them in subsidies and kick-backs.

    As for trusting doctors, I once went with my grandfather to a GP, so that he could carry on driving past age 70. All the GP did was ask my grandmother if she felt comfortable in the car with him and signed his licence off. You see time is money and there is no point in spending time properly examining a patient for something like that, when there was is comeback on you. That IMO is an example of chosen negligence !

    Do you think the BMA would have hounded him if my grandfather had a crash afterwards, like the FSA and FSCS hound IFAs ?

  11. Nic, it is a shame that you do not consider your role to be other than commenting on what you see (or believe you see).

    There are wider issues here and any free-thinking observer would accept that regulation has righted a few wrongs whilst effectively limiting the ability of advisers and consumers to intereact in a sensible fashion.

    Any consumer journalist worth his salt will see beyond the flag-waving consumer lobby which usually fails to understand the issues whilst spouting frenzied soundbites to all and sundry.

    Let’s face it, this industry is in a mess and headed for a serious decline. The very people who need financial advice will find it harder to obtain and the typical adviser will become as extinct as a non-politicised regulator.

  12. The one main thing that bugs me about exams is it going to make me a better adviser in the arena I am working ? I can’t honestly say it will, I just dont deal with the type of client that a high roller would or the example clients in the exam papers !!

    I was talking to a fellow IFA practice owner like me and he said to me he has taken on a certifed planner who has 5 years experiance and in the 9 months he has been there has not transacted one bit of business, his quote to was “I dont even think he could close on a execution only case” and went on to say what galls me even more is the IFA he replaced would put through 100k+ worth of biz a year but was so fed up with regulation quit.

    All thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs !!!!

    I not flatly saying dont have exams but make it relevent to the arena you work in, and to put someone out of business because you hav’nt passed them is frankly stupid.

  13. I think Nic’s point is that he is a simple journalist rather than a reporter. More akin to an agony aunt than a research writer.

    Which is fine, certainly entertaining if lacking in intellectual stimulation…

  14. Hang on Nick…Doctors are most certainly NOT paid a “regular wage”…they are self employed business practices, who under new rules now have to fight for clients (patients) against other similar practices (the old rule of “nearest GP to you is yours” has gone).

    They get paid when they sell advice (their time) and sometimes products (e.g. drugs). The only main difference between them and IFAs is that the GP sends his invoice to the NHS, not to their client (patient).

    If taxpayers money was used to pay IFA fees when work was done, the two businesses (for that is what they both are) would have an almost identical model.

  15. Of course Doctors get the chance to bury their mistakes. Incidentally; Nic you only need 3 A’s to enter medical school and then it needs to be in proper subjects such a Science and Biology not English or Maths. Journalists therefore should not apply as they’re too thick. In the days of the good old Witch finder General he managed to keep himself in regular well paid work by always being able to prove someone was a witch. The FSA, modern day Witch Finders have created a climate of stupidity where those witch finders looking hard enough will always manage to find witches. The good old Witch Finder General obviously did a very good job in his day because nowadays you very rarely come across any witches. When there are no more witches to find where will we all be?

  16. @ Nic – The mention of exams just got me thinking. I have 142 points at the CII, 137 of which count towards the 140 required for my diploma. That includes the old FPC.
    Correct me if I am wrong Nic, you did the old FPC? The reason why I ask is my niece who used to work for me while she was at school went on to study journalism at Uni and has worked for serveral newspapers and journals in various roles now in her short career.
    I suppose my question is Nic, will you be undertaking any exams (at your own cost and time) to confirm the knowledge and experience you have gained over time?
    For the record, of the CII R0 papers I sat, I passed all bar 1 first time and the one I failed, I failed by 1 point and resat 2 weeks later, so I knew it pretty well. Cost to me? Study manuals, exam entry, lost working time – rather excessive, just to prove Level 4 (i had all the CPD needed, just no exams at level 4)

  17. @DH 1.56pm

    Amen to that !!

    The ‘certified planners’ you refer to have been around in various guises for years even in direct sales forces – all the gear and no idea !!!

    They are like doctors explaining what a headache is when actually all that the patient wants is a tablet to get rid of it.

    Advice is all well and good BUT in isolation is absolutely useless unless it is acted upon and that generally means selling. That doesnt necessarily mean that the client is beaten into submission and bombarded with reams of information he neither wants or understands – want he wants is a solution he has a BASIC understanding of. What he doesnt need is a Smartas*e adviser spouting on boring him sh1tless.

    History proves that they are always the least successful in actually doing the job

    Hey Presto the KISS principle.

  18. “The FSA has long seen its role as that of giving consumers more confidence to save by knowing they will be protected in the event of them engaging in a financial transaction”
    Not for much longer as that particular bubble is about to burst in spectacular fashion. No doubt you nick, will then bemoan the fact that those nasty little IFAs’ had the temerity to go under, due to the fact that the regulator does not know it’s arm from it’s elbow.

  19. ‘they won’t try to give you a certain treatment because they have been paid more commission for it by a drug company, for instance’

    Sorry Nic they will. Most doctors now run a private business and whilst they get income from the NHS what they take home is based on the profits of the business so there are financial pressures on them so if they get a ‘sweetner’ from the drug company there is a chance that drug will be prescribed.

  20. Nic, are you being serious?

  21. Like a pantomime baddie, only a bit less charming and well informed. Do you get paid on the effort you put into research and getting your facts straight or by how many advisers you wind up. One of those would make you excellent value for money. Can you guess which one?

  22. Utter balderdash, maybe your column should be regulated to ensure your comments are accurate.

  23. Richard Wright 3rd May 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Naive Nick strikes again!!!
    Once upon a time Nick I had a very poorly knee picked up because of my love of playing cricket. Having PMA i decided to go private. The consultant I saw (an NHS Consultant that also did private work) told me that I needed an operation and the sooner I had it the better and told me lots of scare stories of what would happen if I didnt have it including proberbly having to give up my beloved sport. After much thought I phoned the Consultant and said Id like to finish the season continue with the physio I was having elsewhere which was getting me through games and book in for the op at the end of the season. By September thanks to all the physio I was pain free, i never had the op and three and a half years later my knee is fine and Ive never had another problem with it. The consultant therefor didnt get the £8500 he would have been paid by my PMA provider for carrying out the Op.
    On another note Nick ve been doing some research, and I challange you to get in touch to disscus it. I have quotes in my possesion for someone Investing £100k into a bond. The Current contract would pay out £4000 more to the client at ten years with me taking up front commission plus 0.5% trail than the post RDR contract which, for the quote, I charged no adviser fee upfront and charged just 0.5%pa built ino the contract. I wont reveal the name of the company here but if your willing to have a chat illl be happy to send the quotes to you. Im puzzled how a regualator who is supposed to ensure the public are protected and have access to best value can possibly be crazy enough to allow this to happen.
    Mail me: rwright61@btinternet.com

  24. Nic, yet again you demonstrate a combination of an appalling lack of knowledge and research into your subject matter.

    There is being contentious and being plain ill-informed and ill-prepared. The art is in understanding which bus to be on; you seem to have been on the wrong one lately!

    I worry about writing articles for local journals for fear that I may make a mistake and be held culpable, but having read your recent articles, perhaps I am being overly-sensitive.

  25. Michael Fallas 3rd May 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Sorry is anyoine forgetting the £16 Billion compensation bill that is currently budgeted for over the next 10 years in the NHS of which the vast majority is due to clinical negligence and guess who pays most of it?

    They of course are not liable for their diagnosis until they die either.

    So despite all those qualifications they have as big a compensation bill as ours only they don’t pay for it like we do.

    Beam me up Scotty.

  26. What do I think Nic?

    As a frequent reader of your articles over the years it appears that your ability of “sparking discussion in the IFA community” has greatly dwindled due to your focus on topics that are less and less relevant. Whilst your articles might yield a high number of responses, the topics you cover are rarely meaningful anymore. This article is a case in point. It’s a mix of subtle jibes, inaccuracies and, frankly, irrelevance. I’m sure Mr Carne does a sterling job, but what does comparing doctors with IFAs have to do with anything?

    Also, if it’s not your job to be an ally to advisers, why do you even care what we think? You’re never going to do anything useful with the information that is presented to you, other than to write more articles like this.

    On this measure, this article, and many of your recent articles, can be described as a failure. I’ve honestly tried to stick with you but, regrettably, this will be the last of your articles that I will spend/waste time reading.

    Just my opinion, but I hope that’s clarified my views.

  27. I am pleased that Nic’s article has elicited a considerable response. I have only just seen it having been out of the office all day yesterday, hence the delay in my reply.

    I have 2 comments to make. Firstly in praise of Nic Cicutti and he doesn’t get much of that from IFAs. He is clearly a man of his word – there were other subjects he would have preferred to have covered this week but he said he would write about my blog and he certainly delivered on that promise. Secondly the blogs to date, whilst critical of Nic’s point about the medical profession, do not seem particularly supportive of my main contention – that the FSA should be obliged, either legally or at the very least morally, to consider the effects of their regulation on the savings and protection habits of the nation.

    In replying to Nick’s observation about the academic credentials of the medical profession I am going to paste below part of an e-mail I wrote to a senior AIFA executive in 2007:

    “In recent years I have read a lot of good books and attended many lectures at PFS meetings etc. I am presently reading “The Motivated Mind” by the well known psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud (who happens to be double qualified as he is also a qualified psychologist). This has reminded me of a PFS lecture I attended last year given by Tony Gordon the former chairman of AWD (Thomson) and Redcliffe Groups. In this he asserted that there are basically 2 types of intelligence – cognitive and emotional. This is also confirmed by Dr Persaud in the above mentioned book. People with cognitive intelligence are great at passing exams and are drawn to careers in areas such as regulation and, indeed, other more worthy professions. People with emotional intelligence are great at empathising and are drawn to careers in sales and other people focussed areas. The trouble is that often they are not great at the cognitive areas. Conversely the cognitive crowd might be great at demonstrating their intelligence in conventional IQ tests and other exams but they are often absolutely hopeless at tuning in to other people or persuading people to do things e.g. delaying gratification today in the interests of saving for the long term / retirement. Emotional intelligence is difficult to evaluate in conventional terms – we have IQ tests but no EQ tests. That said, the value of EQ should not be underestimated but it often is by the IQ crowd.

    You are doubtless wondering where all this is leading. Well, particularly in our industry, the IQ crowd are currently winning the war. They think that life is all about exams and regulation. They place no value whatsoever on EQ skills. That’s why, when they attempt to introduce new regulation, they see no need to try to sell the concept or wonder what affect it might have on the people at the coal face. They just march in with the jack boots and stomp all over us. Question – how many regulators do you know who have gone on to have successful careers as IFAs? It’s a totally different skill set. When I listen to the FSA presenting their concepts on TCF, RDR etc all I see is bullies. I don’t see a single salesman amongst them. But that’s OK because “selling” has become a dirty word in regulatory circles. We have to give advice we mustn’t sell anything. The only time you see the word sell these days is when it is preceded by “mis”. I also note that the latest AIFA paper on the RDR lauds the concept of “advice” and derides “sales”. Well as far as I am concerned this is all bull ****! The IFA community consists mainly of salesmen. They might throw in a bit of free advice as a sweetener but at the end of the day they are looking to sell something. Even if it’s a fee that they have had to ridiculously inflate because of the time costs of ad nauseum compliance with regulation.

    I think we are fairly typical of the smaller regional directly authorised IFA practice. We do not agree that the title “independent financial adviser” is discredited in the public eye. We are unashamedly salesmen and we consider our skills in this area to be of great value and worthy of the level of reward they would obtain in any other industry you care to think of. We do not perceive that there is a vast market of people out there actively seeking financial “advice”. Accordingly we perceive that in order to get people saving, protecting and investing a massive sales push is needed in the absence of compulsion (which no government has the political will to introduce). If the industry wishes to dress this up as “advice” then so be it.

    The RDR appears to be an attempt to retrospectively force those of us who are not prepared to invest the time and effort in passing more exams to lose our independent status. We will no longer be in the top tier. It is the retrospection that is so offensive. Can you imagine any other business sector being forced to lose their present status and title which they have been using for the last 20+ years at the whim of a regulator? It is an outrage and a breach of human rights. AIFA had better come out fighting or we will lose all credibility in the eyes of our members. This is not a time for reasoned, quiet negotiation and keeping the FSA “on side”. They have beaten us up once too often and now we must fight for the very survival of the vast majority of our membership!

    Since writing the above I have done the requisite exams and have taken up a position on the FSA’s Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel but I have succeeded in changing precious little at the FSA to date. I live in hope but then I always was an optimist.

    Dick Carne

  28. Cant add anything to that Dick – superb

  29. At Derek Gair:

    Can you make use of it Derek? If so please feel free to do so! If you need to speak with me please call me on 07889 508694 or 02380 420606.

    Regards.

    Dick

  30. An interesting debate –even if some of the posts are a bit off the mark.

    There is much to agree with from Nic’s point of view. Too many in this business seem to think they are social workers and assume that others should also adopt this mantle. We are not here for the greater good of society in general – we run businesses and I think Nic reflects that and does stimulate thought and debate. And on occasional spur to the conscience.

    In the 23 years that we have had regulation there has, I will concede, been much to complain about, but there has also been huge improvements. The window cleaner no longer flogs policies on the side.

    Nic too has strayed from the path of pure logic. Doctors may well need to have impeccable academic credentials, but in our field I would contend that you require more business and commercial ‘nous’. This may be in addition to academic qualifications, but from what I have seen is often very sadly lacking and is certainly never the requirement it should be.

    Many of my doctor clients don’t have the first clue about money and often plain common sense in this department is sadly lacking. Indeed it is often downright dangerous, as they know they are clever and think that this applies to other disciplines – which in my experience has most evidently not been the case. Also as others have said they get paid for the number on the panel – whether they treat them or not – unlike dentists who get paid exactly for the work that they do. The difference in service is marked.

    Specialists often (or invariably) have private patients – and they do get directly paid.

    As to errors you only have to see the amount that the NHS pays out in compensation every year. Annual payouts grew from £277 million in 2000-01 to nearly £1 billion in 2010-11. In the past five years, clinical negligence claims have risen from 5,697 to 8,655 per year.

    Health Minister Lord Howe said: “Following a review of claims, we have made additional funds available to the NHS Litigation Authority in order to make sure those claimants who are entitled to compensation receive it in a timely way. So I think perhaps we should pause before holding up the medical profession as an example for IFAs. It is evident that both occupations suffer from the compensation culture.

    Our local GP surgery is so poor that from time to time we need to go to a private practice. Perhaps this is not generally the case, but complaints about poor service from the NHS abound. As others have also mentioned the medical profession also benefit from various perks that are dished out by the drug companies. (Have you any concept what a good drug company rep can earn?) I’m afraid to tell you that they also benefit from kick-backs from referrals and we all know that they get a pretty good fee from insurance companies for just pushing a button on a computer.

    Nic says that it is not the FSA’s place to improve the nation’s savings. Maybe so, but it is also not their place to be detrimental to this endeavour.

    As for a litmus test that is just wishful thinking. I guess many of us would be fairly content if we just had a cost benefit analysis (by an independent third party) from time to time.

  31. We should not compare ourselves to doctors in the same way NC should not compare himself to a reporter.

  32. Simon Mansell 4th May 2012 at 6:31 pm

    You say Doctors are paid a regular wage, not a commission. Of course many consultants operate via Ltd Co. The client I have in mind gererates 75% of his income via private fees and has not sat an exam in 30 years, just CPD!

  33. GP's and compliants 4th May 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Do GPs get complaints?

    According to a 2005 census survey there are 35,302 GPs in England. The complaints relating to GPs are collated via an aggregated annual return of the total number of complaints made against Family Health Services. For 2009/10 there were 3,515 complaints made against made against Family Health Services, Seven plus years of exams didn’t stop their complaints

  34. Simon Mansell 4th May 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Not only is a troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology it is also someone who posts inflammatory messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, in order to inflame a response. Nic I think you fall into the “troll school of journalism” and seldom do you write anything constructive or positive. Your writing is merely designed to inflame an angry response. The worst thing anyone can do is to actually take your comment seriously.

  35. @ Dick – Well said, I am glad to hear you are on the FSSPP and AIFA committees based on your comments.
    Like you I suspect my skills are Eq rather than IQ, BUT like you I will have my Diplolma in 2 weeks time (I had 142 points recorded with CII, but they will not include 5 of them, so I needed to do an extra paper) Ironically, I had no GAPS in the first place, I just had to do exams to get the diploma points, passed all bar 1 R0 paper first time with good marks and even the one I had to resit I only failed by 1 point because I didn’t study the manual first.
    Only nurses and FAs are made to qualify twice in their career, solicitors and everyone else grandfather.
    and don’t get mje started on the Longstop, I'[ve just come off the phoen to a solciitor at a major law firm involved in the pursuit of IFAs who didn’t know trhat the ministry of justice when under jack straw were trying to REDUCE the longstop to 10 years, whilst IFAs are tried in to infinity by the FOS. There is a solution to the longstop issue, but the F-pack is true arrogant to even discuss it and AIFA when under Chris Cummings had ONE meeting only to discuss the longstop (I was supposed to be on the panel) but they didn’t give enough notice and I’d already booked a holiday. NOTHINIG happened after that meeting as far as I saw, no follow up, nothing…… so I left AIFA in disgust, but I have since rejoined.

  36. The FSA has failed. Period. Why?

    Because it still believes in homo economicus, which being has never set foot on the planet (with acknowledgements to Roger Bootle).

    Because it has failed to get to grips with the fact that every disaster has been designed and manufactured by product providers.

    Because it has wrapped its underwear round its ankles half a dozen times as it has wrestled with the meaning of the word ‘advice’.

    Because it made its mind up that commission per se was the problem, and has pursued it to the supremely ironic conclusion where product providers can soon facilitate adviser charging ie pay commission like they have always done.

    But mainly because the answer – which is to regulate the product, which is what happens in every other industry – would make the FSA accountable for the failures. Quangocrats just hate the idea of being accountable.

    The costs have been enormous – all of them borne in the end by consumers – and the benefits unquantifiable.

    There is a need for intelligent regulation, but it needs someone to take out a clean sheet of paper, get back to first principles, and produce a regime that does the job better at a fraction of the cost.

    I don’t criticise Nic for not taking on the FSA, but I am extremely disappointed that there is, as far as I know, no member of the fourth estate prepared to stick his or her neck out and attack.

    Just go on the FSA website and search RDR. Our regulation has made satire obsolete.

  37. I have sat back and listened to everyone here. I have been in financial services 7 years after 15 years of service with one of the most famous Army units in the world being paid a fraction what I am now for service in far flung Iands. I am struggling now to take sides of the IFA after this rant. Bearing in mind .. I am one! The self justification and self assessment of everyones ‘self worth’ is disgusting.. The exams are not ‘medical exams’ they are ifs or CII multi choice or a right up its hardly an Msc is it? You can do them in under a year from scratch. Personally I think the industry is flawed as well as the medical industry .. Why? Pure corporate greed. I cannot listen to this anymore your all the same solicitors lawyers accountants IFA s doing very little for way too much remuneration. But in the IFA defence I agree the reason you have to do so by printing and writing and chopping of amazon rain forrests is because of regulation. Everyone put up or shut up and get on. Your all in work get massive remuneration. The country is now built on service dribble. You provide a service and clients can snooze to use you or not. You can argue all day long but why? You will not change anything because if you do people would not make money. Yes there is good service out there but no it’s not the be all and end all. You are not doctors or life savers. You are salesman.. You are now falling into the traps as are he banking CEO crowd of actually believing your own hype that you are actually worth being paid more than a nurse or doctor ?? Have a word with yourselves?

  38. Irrespective of the economic sector or industry, no company can survive without successful sales people. It doesn’t matter how good the product or service, unless potential customers can be convinced to buy it then the company will not survive. That doesn’t mean that sales people shouldn’t be ethical – they should. And it may be, as in financial services, that we sell need before product. We identify problems and potential problems and discuss possible solutions which may often take the form of a ‘product’. Sales people who sell the right product to the right people at the right price should be highly valued by their company, their clients and, in the case of financial services, by any government wishing that the population be self-reliant (albeit politicians of a certain persuasion may be happy with the dependancy culture it has created and expanded over the past forty years). If we have to call this problem solving and selling by another name “ADVICE”, to satisfy a regulator that doesn’t live on the same planet as our clients then so be it. But make no mistake, without salespeople the capitalist world economy would collapse. The Americans understand this as do most European countries – successful salespeople are among the most highly paid of all staff in the US. It’s only in the ethereal world occupied by the FSA that ‘selling’ is a dirty word.

  39. I wonder why my little piece about the FSA being an abject failure has not appeared. I wrote that I was disappointed that no journalist was going for the FSA’s throat. Is the MM moderator feeling guilty, or what.

  40. Brenda Mellor 7th May 2012 at 12:42 pm

    As usual, there is valid and invalid reaction. Sad to say, the concern to ensure that IFAs serve the client rather than their own needs, which is perfectly justifiable, given some idiots’ self-serving, greedy and ignorant behaviour, has nevertheless resulted in a regime which has – as one of your correspondent’s points out – a whole load of unintended consequences. Whilst this is primarily the government’s responsibility, it should also be of concern to the regulator – after all, they are required to ensure confidence in the financial services industry. I think you have missed the point a little, Nic. I regularly come across people who think they are safer listending to the bloke in the pub than consulting a professional adviser. Others who think that they should rely on winning the lottery rather than make sensible retirement plans, I could go on……A lot of this is down to sensationalist journalism and paperwork overkill.

  41. To – Anonymous | 6 May 2012 10:10 am
    If the one of the “nost famous units in the Army” you refer to is one of teh special forces, whilst i cna udnerstand your annonimity for your Military work, I don’t see why you are hiding behind “anon” to comment on Moneymarketing and to criticise your peers.
    And before you ask, whilst I never did anything with special forces, I did 16 years TA, but resigned in 2000 on principle.

  42. To Anon 6/5 @10.10
    Did they pension you off ?

  43. It would appear that you don’t need to be good at spelin’ or gramar to be in the army.

    All you need is a big ego and a loud voice so you can scream blobby blobby blobby at anyone and everyone.

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