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Survival of the fittest

I have been thinking a lot about the loneliness of a long-distance runner, the trials and tribulations of the runs that take you way out into the country before you head home, half-delirious.

Those of you that know me will probably think I am going to talk about my own marathon preparations – or Russ Haworth’s, Sarah Calvert’s or, better still, Jeff Prestridge’s 10 in 10 days – but I am going to talk about an even bigger marathon preparation, the retail distribution review.

Preparations started in 2006 and it is over this long distance that advisers have come up with clearly defined strategies built for longevity.

I recently bumped into an ex-colleague from years ago. He, like many of us, has been busy getting the exams done and along the way has realised that it is no longer about shifting FSAVCs by the bucketload and getting pips to go up and down those pip boards.

We joked and derided in the same breath – and then we derided some more. In fact, our mindsets and the firms we work for are now very different from the firms of yesteryear. The pace of change in preparation for the RDR has been immense.

It seems as though the industry will fill with modern versions of Hargreaves Lansdown, offering both direct and advised propositions. Who would have guessed it all those years ago, when we were swimming in the warm seas of commission?

Many advisers have already changed their businesses and we are now leaner and fitter and ready for good business.

There have been plenty of blisters along the way in this tiring journey and bouts of runners knee that cast doubts over whether the RDR itself could be implemented in time or whether all advisers could undertake such a change.

Advisers have gone through some nearly unbearable pains, some crashed out by the side of the road but it all seems so second nature now – and we survivors look so much better for it.

I have often thought about an RDR version of the old-style commission pip board, in which pips are based on recurring revenues rather than adrenaline-filled commission pips laced with sleepless nights. Add to that to testimonials, relevant CPD hours, professional memberships and exams.

Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radliffe and Newlands

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