I am sure that what we all dread on returning from holiday these days is not the pile of mail on the doormat but the deluge of emails including enough spam to have solved the rationing issues of World War Two. Before I proceed, can I suggest that all those CC or, worse, BCC fans are only allowed to use these twice a day or an electric shock will come through the keyboard. These irrelevant copy lists will be the end of many of us.
Having attended a series of events where the hot topic was the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy, it was clear that no one expected the level of increase to IFAs. If providers intended to cap their contribution after so many years, why did we not know about it so that we could at least plan for it in our budgeting?
Next year will probably see the same or worse as several IFA firms drop their liabilities and walk away unhindered. In doing so, they erode the hard work done by volunteers like me and the rest of the Sofa team who strive to improve standards. If you buy firms and do not carry out any due diligence of substance, you should not use the FSCS like a get-out-of-jail-free card. I believe you should pay for your errors. To cite that it is normal corporate practice ignores the fact that, in other industries, there is no outside agency to compensate creditors.
The FSA's reaction to all this reminds me of the lack of action over newspaper barons in the past, when the Government department was referred to in certain quarters as the Department of Timidity and Inaction.
If the FSA sticks with the fit and proper creed, why does it register a former compliance director of a newly banned IFA firm as an IFA trainee? Or does the public need less protection from his advice than from his previous corporate strategy? People who have been involved in practices that get them banned or have them running away from their liabilities have no place in our sector.
No one should be allowed to be so cavalier with the public or the FSCS. Nor should any professional adviser work for the phoenix firms – certainly not if they wish to retain any professional credibility. We need a more professional image and must ensure that we all act with professional standards and take a more lateral view of our conduct in the future.
I am sure that many of those who have incurred my wrath will continue to remain visible in the press. I have a suggestion for them. Leave quietly and we can all go on with building a profession and rebuilding consumer confidence as we go.
Maybe we should create an email pile for the FSA on this subject. Otherwise, if we simply pay up, this annual FSCS levy will continue to play havoc with our financial well-being. Robert Reid is director of Syndaxi Financial Planning