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The New Advisers

This new section has one intention – to advise IFAs on how they can establish some control over the destiny of their own businesses.

As the regulator, Government and even providers rewrite the rules of the game, it will try and help advisers learn how to play by them and hopefully make some money in the process. As the son of Surviving Stakeholder, it will try to move beyond the threat from one quarter and perhaps strike a more optimistic note.

IFAs should be in no doubt that the threats are real. There is some naive thinking from people in very influential positions about just what financial services should and can deliver on. But this new section will try and incorporate the fact that many IFAs continue to thrive in business terms.

Some of the topics must wait for answers, particularly from the FSA on disclosure, polarisation, training and competence and perhaps even the second part of the Myners style review of retail investment.

Other issues such as moving to fees, or at least finding new streams of types of income are already obvious, but may become more pressing as other changes are implemented.

In the past couple of months, at various conferences, I have seen senior people from providers tell the IFA world that all products will fall under the 1 per cent regime.

I am far from convinced that 1 per cent is even possible for stakeholder, with some of the biggest players in the country showing the strain, let alone the smaller ones. So it is far from certain its extension across the market is a foregone conclusion.

On the fundamental issue of compulsion, some senior figures say it is inevitable. Again, such an intensely political problem is not definitely going to happen although if it does it could prove more fundamental for IFAs than 1 per cent. At worst, the Government could try and cut them out altogether.

But overall, the opinions will be restricted to debates on the best strategy to cope or predictions of what the market may look like. We will save the campaigning for other sections of the newspaper.

Besides the opinions, we will try and answer the “how to” questions. We won&#39t be giving you a list on office equipment suppliers, or telling you what computers to buy as certain unimaginative magazines may try to do. We will look at new ways to operate as advisers, new product areas and new ways of selling old products revisited.

Many will note that the section is called the New Advisers rather than the new IFAs. That is on purpose. It may be that if the FSA polarisation decision goes the wrong way, some advisers may want to go multi-tied.

We still believe most IFAs, for a host of reasons, would be better remaining independent and will continue to support this position. But some may decide the combination of regulation and competitive pressure means they will be best placed if they multi-tie, particularly if the providers&#39 chequebooks come out.

If, and it is still only if, change comes, then the section will consider the move to multi-ties, in terms of whether it is worth doing, and how to do so on a practical basis. Obviously, the section will also look at the pros and cons of remaining independent and how to do so profitably.

So why new? It does not mean we are abandoning one section of the readership which has been running successful businesses for years for those recently launched.

But we are saying that most businesses need to adapt even it is simply a matter of restricting your advice to those who can afford to pay a fair price for it.

Too much is being changed by the regulator, the Government and the providers for advisers to be allowed to become anything other than a very different species in the next few years. It will be much better if advisers establish some control over that process. And that is what this section will aim to do: to advise you on the issues and look at some of the practicalities of doing so.

The rest is up to you, the new advisers.


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