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The route to less regulation

Reid all about itMaking resolutions are important at this time of year and I thought it best that in my first column of the year I attempted, with tongue firmly in cheek, to ponder on the optimum resolution for the great and even the good.

David Severn’s move to Aifa surprised many but not, I am sure, Aifa’s corporate sponsors who continue to exert an unhealthy influence on the body’s approach to life, the universe, etc. Its part in the des-ign of the menu has led to a document that presents the biggest challenge since hard disclosure. David’s resolution is, I must not issue any consultation papers. It is a hard habit to brake but he needs to address it as soon as possible.

Sandy Crombie of Standard Life may have had his resolution fulfilled early, with his securing the services of Trevor Matthews, a refreshing change from the management of old. Here is someone who appreciates professional advisers and will only tolerate commercially viable relationships.

The banks have to date never really managed to make inroads into the IFA market share but Barclays has the team assembled to do just that. Its leader in this area, Jim Reeve should probably resolve to concentrate on not allowing its offering to wander and become indistinct.

When I first came into the life and pension sector in 1978, Barbara Castle was launching Serps. Since then, successive governments have focused on costs and not benefits, with the result that we now have a pension system which is not trusted by the public and in a format that makes planning far too much of a guessing game.

For the public to take action, we need a clear offering from the Government. The citizens pension proposed by Allan Johnson is the first sign that simplification may not just apply to private pensions. Johnson’s resolution must be to convince the Treasury that significant incentives are the only way to start off a new savings culture. The recent exit of Fidelity from child trust funds should be all the evidence that they need that too much interfering in design will only lead to no take-up or no providers. The Government needs to understand that it is not capable of marketing products but it can aid their adoption.

The FSA is to attempt to segment and rationalise the rulebook and this can only be good news but the regulator and the FOS must align in their interpretation if we are to be able to go forward with confidence.

The resolution for John Tiner is for the FSA to be recognised as a reformed character in touch with the industry and yet in line with its core objective of consumer protection.

It would be remiss of me to leave out Bob Bullivant in this piece. After all, the merger to form PFS will have major impact as PFS builds up steam. His resolution must be to ensure that the society’s quest for higher standards is not frustrated by the need for reduced costs with many of the distributors.

Last, what about me? Well, I resolve to continue to say what I believe and to help get us recognised as a profession and to get back to playing the drums. There is no better way to remove the stress that comes with the territory.

Robert Reid is director of Syndaxi Financial Planning

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