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Polar bears need to cool the climate for a clear view

The continuing bear market must be the biggest risk facing financial services firms but political and regulatory risk comes a close second and this supposedly under a business-friendly Government.

To make matters worse, the bull market – fading into folk lore – provided a false comfort zone which has masked some of the problems faced by fund managers, life offices and advisers. The first risk makes the second all the more serious.

Some of the gloomier commentators believe buy to let, admittedly to the glee of specialists in that market, is fast becoming the default investment of choice and that Ron Sandler, abetted by the FSA, could be the man to turn the lights out on the fund industry if he is not careful.

The mortgage industry, buy to let aside, is facing its fair share of problems, not least the one caused either by the ombud-sman&#39s decision or by lenders&#39 application of dual rates, depending on your view.

Finally, the courts do not look set to ride to the rescue either as witnessed by the recent windfall decision.

This newspaper believes it is possible to reconcile industry, consumer and Govern-ment interests but it requires everyone to calm down a bit and call a halt to some of the more inflammatory comments and for more listening from the powers that be.

The industry may need to change the way it thinks about such challenges. The Government and regulator should come to terms with the need and demand for advice and stop trying to replace it.

To bear markets we have no solution but there is no reason why sense should not prevail and reduce at least one risk to this vital section of the economy.

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Auto-enrolment: pay attention or pay the price

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