The compensation scheme's system of payments is in a fine mess. The question is, who got us into it? Is the regulator playing Oliver Hardy to the providers' Stan Laurel?
Maybe. The bills for this fatal showdown between IFAs and the FSA over non-payment of their compensation scheme levy have not reached all advisers. Some invoice batches are still to go out so it may be impossible for many IFAs to meet this deadline despite the threat of having to pay interest or arguably the more hollow threat of losing their licences.
Second, it appears that providers took a unilateral decision to cap the amount they would stump up for the scheme this year, driving up bills dramatically and leaving advisers with a nasty surprise.
Finally, the Pass scheme, which administers payments to IFAs from the providers, may have been left to wither on the vine and may not even be able to cope with the limited amount that providers were due to pay this year. Money Marketing, at this stage, can only appeal for flexibility. It would be helpful if the FSA had a rethink on what may well be a very punitive stance.
It would be helpful if providers thought again before they pulled the rug out from under their main distribution channel. They should remember that their alternative strategies for getting their products to market are not yet proven.
Finally and possible most importantly, someone ought to be telling the Govern-ment that the regulatory system, including the FSA, the Ombudsman and the Compen-sation Scheme, is shafting the current distribution system and its replacement will be an awful lot worse. But for the moment, some compromise from Canary Wharf and the providers would be welcome.
This is a fine mess but, unlike Laurel and Hardy's escapades, not a very amusing one for advisers.