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Policy is priority

No news escaped from the Gleneagles life & pensions summit held last week. This was the event at which Callum McCarthy chose to fire the starting pistol of the retail distribution review last year.

If a week is a long time in politics, it is but a blink of an eye in regulatory circles. And it is vital we use every moment of the RDR’s discussion period wisely.

Aifa has been busy working on the RDR and it has become the highest priority for the team.

We have been handling our response to the RDR in a three-stage process – member and influencer engagement, research and analysis and policy development and communication.

The first phase of our RDR work was devoted to helping members understand the real issues. It did amuse me that some of the comments I read about the RDR were from people who took full advantage of the fact they had not needed to read it to know what was in it.

The serious point is that we need debate around the real issues and not ill-informed speculation. To help this process, Aifa has produced a series of Issues Papers on adviser segmentation, remuneration, and independence. Papers on consumer responsibility and prudential proposals will quickly follow. These can be downloaded from

Our first-phase work also included a series of meetings with politicians and their advisers.

As the people’s elected representatives, politicians need to understand the potential impact on their constituents.

This programme of meetings continues during the party conference season.

Aifa’s research programme covers:

  • Consumer research. What do consumers want from retail financial services, what do they think of the RDR and, if implemented, would the proposals make any difference to them?
  • Firm research. Aifa is about to unveil a landmark research exercise where every IFA firm in the country will be able to contribute their views of the RDR.
  • Industry research. We are compiling fresh evidence on the financial robustness of the sector.

To develop a robust policy successfully, we need the help and co-operation of all members. This will be your opportunity to express your views.

To help us get an even better insight into members’ views, we are holding a series of events across the country. We have FSA speakers at all of these dinners and conferences where members can hear direct from the regulator about the RDR’s issues.

Having undertaken the research and analysed the evidence, the final stage will be to develop Aifa policy.

If this process seems laborious, I make no apologies. To respond effectively, we need depth of thought and rigorous analysis.

Once we have finalised policy, we will be sharing this with members through a series of communications and events.

I understand that the FSA has received more than 130 responses on the RDR already. This is encouraging. I hope every IFA firm will review AIFA’s policy response and give some serious thought to sending in their own views.

This matter is too important to the future of every firm not to participate.

Chris Cummings is director general of Aifa


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