I see that yet again Alan Lakey is having a go at the regulator and venting his spleen at the RDR. Let me say I am sure that anybody who
has met Alan would not deny he is a decent person but I think he is getting a little obsessive on this topic and behaving a bit like a one-trick pony.
I am no defender of the regulator and know there is an awful lot wrong with the way the FSA operates. How – ever, in principle, having been in the business as long as Alan (this year sees my quarter century) I have to say that looking back, on bal ance, regulation has been a force for good. There have been past practices which by anybody’s standards were unacceptable and there were practitioners who should not have been let anywhere near somebody else’s money.
Yes, there has been overregulation and there have been problems but that is how it works in all walks of life today.
Alan has always been vociferous against the extra educational requirements of the RDR, questioning why he should have to learn things that do not apply to his everyday business and I have always taken this to mean that he merely concentrates on life insurance and mortgages.
I was a bit surprised to see comments in the same edition of MM where Alan was commenting on platforms for investments and pensions. Indeed, using his own logic about the system of permissions, I would presume he has permissions, therefore, for investment business, in which case, I do not understand why he objects to a better level of education encompassing these topics as well as those on which he majors so successfully and on which he has been one of the leading exponents.
In his piece on permissions, he mentions he has not heard mention of misadventure, misadvice or scandal with regard to finalsalary transfers or equity release. All I can tell him is – watch this space, particularly with equity release.
As far as final-salary transfers are concerned, any adviser in this field is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t and is also treading on eggshells. We live in a compensation culture which has been generated as an overreaction to some excesses. This is manifest in all walks of life. That is not to say that redress has not been due with regard to some of the outrageous examples in our field but even when IFAs have been found guilty, the proportionality is not comparable and the offences themselves, by plain numbers and value, bear no comparison to the bigger distributors who merely play the numbers game.
In conclusion, I would say Alan is perfectly capable and intelligent enough to reach the higher level. He does himself and the industry a disservice by railing against it. In his time in the business, as well as in mine, I am sure he has seen some appalling examples of advice from those who purport to be IFAs and who are evidently sorely lacking in knowledge and technical expertise.
We now have in prospect a new head banana at the FSA and, after the general election, maybe even a complete revamp of regulation. Perhaps now is our chance to meet the regulator halfway and demonstrate we areprepared to work together for the benefit of customers and perhaps they might begin to look at us in a different light. After we have attained a higher basic level of education, they may even look down on us a little less.