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Stable times are needed for 2006

At this time of year, Money Marketing traditionally asks advisers how the year went.

Was business good as you rode out the worst that regulation could throw at you and did you do a great job for your clients nonetheless? Did you sort them with that mortgage despite the increased paperwork, help them insure themselves, benefit from stockmarket returns or even convince them to put something in a pension? We are sure that most of you did and are now helping to explain the ludicrous U-turn over property Sipps.

Of course, you may not be an IFA any more, having joined the exodus to pure mortgage broking or perhaps you have gone multi-tied. The numbers of whole of market advisers remain unclear but probably make up a sizeable section of the adviser population too.

Whatever your status, the biggest cross-industry issue remains the stability of some IFA groups. Many remain dogged by senior personnel changes, cumbersome costs, past regulatory problems and ultimately a failure to make money. A high-profile failure in the next few weeks would be very bad news for all concerned.

The regulator remains ever-present, increasing its remit with mortgages and GI and continuing a hard-line stance against advisers despite its rhetoric about principle-based regulation.

But the biggest problem remains that good advisers have to pay for the failure of others through the compensation scheme. The system is perverse and it has to be hoped that Aifa can convince the FSA that the system does not work and will eventually deny the public access to financial advice. Let us hope that common sense prevails.

In the meantime, we wish all our readers at fund managers, lenders, life offices, regulators, and, most important, at advisers, a Happy Christmas and a Successful New Year.

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