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The IFP’s view

I am amazed at the impact that a celebrity can have on Government policymaking. We have seen Jamie Oliver bringing to the Government’s attention the appalling standard of school catering and the rubbish that children are eating.The result has been an immediate increase in the amount that is being spent.

Financial services could do with its own celebrity to help educate the Government and the FSA about solutions to their problems. With the exception of Steve Bee, we have no celebrity to fight the cause of financial services and are reliant on the various professional and trade bodies to fight our corner.

This is where the first problem lies, in that everybody has a different agenda and finds it difficult to trade territory. We all know that the suggested output from the Government is wrong but so far have failed to provide solutions or alternatives that will work for the consumer.

All the organisations have a duty to influence and educate the authorities. MPs and civil servants do not understand the financial planning process and find it difficult to see outside the need for a financial product to serve the consumer’s need.

We are living in a time when our children can find debt on every corner. As they finish university – if they can afford it in the first place – they will have huge overdrafts to start their working lives and then find it very difficult to get on to the housing ladder without having at best to borrow near 100 per cent of the house price.

What we need is for the Government or the industry to find a couple of celebrities in addition to the Baronworth duo to start educating children in schools about fundamental financial planning, budgeting, net worth, saving, etc, so they can be more informed about the options that are available to them.

Over the past few months, the Institute of Financial Planning has worked with the FSA in a number of areas to try and provide support on how fee-based financial planning businesses operate.

We want to develop guidelines for our members as they interpret the rules regarding the payment menu. By developing best practice, others will then benefit and hopefully run a better business.

This is not just a question of telling the FSA how it should be but inviting it to visit and spend time with financial planning practices so it can see a what a planner and his or her team get up to in any working week. The desired result is greater empathy as to the needs of particular businesses when future rule changes are needed.

More traditional IFA firms should take part in this initiative to help improve the regulator’s understanding of the operations that you run.

The IFP is following this up with a depolarisation day on May 24 plus a series of transition workshops taking place during the second six months of the year.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning

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