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Optimism prevails for the year of stakeholder

It will be no mean feat being an adviser in 2001. There is a brand new pension,a new system of disclosure, ambitious plans for training and competence including possible retesting and, very likely, the abolition of polarisation.

This will be followed by mortgage regulation in 2002, although it will have an impact long before then and compulsory mortgage exams for members of the code.

In terms of competition, new players are emerging thick and fast. The fund super markets will surely take a significant chunk of the Isa season business – but let us hope the IFA-supporting operations emerge on top. The tied side is going to get a signifi cant boost with the end of polarisation but, as a channel, it will take some time to recover from the Equitable Life debacle.

The biggest outside threat, we feel, could prove to be the new wealth management services, even if they turn out to be little more than glorified multi-tied services because they aim to scoop up clients who would traditionally seek the help of IFAs.

That said, the number one competitor for most IFAs, particularly with Equitable out of the picture, will be other IFAs.

And compete they will. Our poll for the new year on the page opposite shows all the IFAs surveyed are optimistic for 2001.

The fact that this optimism is as a result of stakeholder pensions may come as a surprise. With a new pension in the pipeline, there has never been more need for advice despite the outright hostility of the Government.

We just hope the public will be prepared to pay for the advice they need.

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