After five and a half years at the helm this is my last day as editor of Money Marketing.
It has been my pleasure and privilege to lead MM through the last few years of considerable change including the recent transformation of our print edition from a pink newspaper into a modern weekly magazine (that in no way looks like the old Smash Hits mag).
I’m off to edit another financial title (via a couple of weeks on a beach sleeping and trying to read up about hedge funds) and so you will no longer have to put up with the overbearing double-glazing saleman-like picture of myself towards the front of the new-look magazine.
I’ll be leaving MM in the more than capable hands of Natalie Holt, who has already done a fantastic job here, both as a reporter and then for the past year heading up our news desk.
The last few years has been a period of huge change for both the advice profession and the media and it does not appear the pace of this change will let up for either as technology and regulatory pressures create new threats and opportunities.
The biggest grumble from readers today is the same one I heard when I took over as editor: concern over the cost and effectiveness of regulation. These are costs ultimately borne by the client in extra fees and despite a range of regulatory actions, some positive, it is still hard to see how they are getting their money’s worth.
Advisers were forced to gain extra qualifications and change the way they are paid at a time when clients were feeling the effects of a sustained economic downturn.
There are lots of question marks around the sustainability of certain adviser business models, particularly when the stock market becomes less kind than it has been since the RDR.
But it is striking that although much of the focus in the run-up to the RDR was on the effect it would have on IFAs, and the over-hyped concern about the “death of the IFA”, it is the traditional product providers who are the ones struggling to find a place for themselves in the “new world”.
Firms who had always defined themselves by their relationship with a suspicious IFA community are now struggling to articulate their worth to either advisers or the end consumer.
Many big firms are now launching direct to consumer propositions. Huge gambles are being made. D2C is an incredibly hard nut to crack but senior management at these firms feel they have no other choice.
RDR, auto enrolment, charge caps and the upcoming radical annuity reforms have torn apart their world. Firms with a better focus and track record of technological innovation and without the legacy headaches of the past appear to have significant advantage.
Will the recent spate of providers buying up distribution repeat the mistakes of the past and end up as expensive failures? (Maybe). Will Osborne’s radical annuity reforms trigger a wave of demand for professional financial advice? (Hopefully). Will the FCA embark on an austerity crusade after figuring out that regulatory costs are a tax on consumers that must be kept in check? (We can but hope).
There’s been plenty of discussion recently in media circles about the way the internet has blown apart the traditional journalist/reader relationship.
A reader often knows much more about a subject than the journalist reporting on it and now has an easy way to distribute their news and views to a wide audience through social media.
But for specialist media serving a professional audience, such as ourselves, this concept of reader power is nothing new.
We tell new reporters at MM there is a simple calculation to remember. The more readers you speak to (and more importantly listen to) the more big stories you’ll break.
Most of our best news stories begin with a conversation with an adviser. Most of our best investigations are triggered by a coffee or a beer with a reader (normally a beer).
Advisers and other experts provide us with a huge number of thought-provoking columns and blogs that we couldn’t do without (even if they occasionally nearly get us sued).
So thanks for all your help and support which I’m sure will continue under the talented new MM leadership team.
Paul McMillan is group editor at Money Marketing – follow him on twitter here