As we head towards the festive break it is that time when reflection is the mode I find myself in, this time focusing on regulation.
Recently, I heard a former regulator speak and I lost all interest when it became clear they were only there because of where they had worked until recently and not for their ability to communicate or build rapport with those they used to regulate. When they stopped speaking my only thought was relief that they were no longer in regulation.
The real problem is that it is one way traffic. In the past we benefited by having people like Jeremy Budden ex Sedgwick and Richard Cockcroft ex M&G moving to the regulator, who understood not just what we did but the difficulties that we faced on a day to day. As the regulators were overrun by the men from the Bank of England those links were largely lost. The absence of new grey panthers (FSA term not mine) has caused problems in particular in labels like non-advised and restricted.
When it comes to regulation, its important that we recognise that around the world all countries are grappling with the role of the adviser and the communication of their charges to the end client. We may feel we are having a rough time but based on what I have heard recently we may be getting off lightly.
Hong Kong now has a regulator corresponding with clients to check they know the quantum of the adviser charge. As this is the former stamping ground of FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley, could this come here soon?
Singapore has a regulator which on finding someone guilty of mis-selling, even one case, will fine them up to 75 per cent of their annual earnings from regulated business.
As most of the advisers in the UK remain self-employed perhaps this is the answer we have been searching for to avoid FSCS levies becoming ridiculous.
Getting more of the experienced people into regulation even for a short while must make sense. It need not be for long periods, a form of regulation meets jury service if you like. Or perhaps a mix of long term/short term secondments is the best solution for the bridging of knowledge?
We need a systematic approach to this if we are to achieve a step-change, we all need to be prepared to help in some way or other.
Perhaps we require a return of National Service with a sort of regulatory Dad’s Army where there are roles for many from Alan Lakey as Corporal Jones, Andrew Fisher as Captain Mainwaring and Peter Hargreaves as the air raid warden, with me as Fraser and Alan Easter as Walker last but not least Martin Bamford as Pike and his dad Nick as Sergeant Wilson.
This kind of open working relationship with the regulator must be the way forward.
Can I conclude by wishing all of you what you deserve in 2014 and possibly even more than that!
Robert Reid is managing director of Syndaxi Financial Planning