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The year of the adviser

Wouldn’t it be nice if 2006 could be declared the year of the adviser?

Maybe it is not the most deserving cause but Money Marketing is pretty certain that it is one that would help increase the long term wealth of the nation.

So what are the chances? Adair Turner seems to be on a mission, despite protestations to the contrary, to cut advisers out of part of the pension equation.

He won’t be the first and won’t be the last but we wonder just how much of his plan is realistic if the means-testing blight on pension planning continues.

Even if it does succeed, it is about five years away. The regulator and the ombudsman will continue to worry advisers. Advisers would like the former to actually say in clearly defined ways what it means. From the latter, they would prefer more consistency in its decision making. But it is how the compensation scheme is paid for that creates the worst potential headache. But regulatory stresses aside, the things that are most important for advisers are that mortgage and general insurance regulation have not caused massive disruption to these markets although, by making advising clients a longer process, they will have cut profitability or forced advisers to put up the price for advice.

In the area of investment advice the industry continues to mature in terms of fund selection while in better markets everyone’s balance sheets look a little healthier. Let’s hope this continues and that retail investors are helped to the correct decisions as stock markets look more uncertain. Many have benefited from the rally – let us hope there is some steam left in it for next year.

Advisers still need to help their clients negotiate their way around inheritance tax planning – even as the goalposts are moved. Finally, the A-Day deadline is hurtling towards us. Let us hope that Prudence accepts the need for some decent short-term planning around the pension changes even if many people’s long-term plans have been scuppered by the changes on property Sipps.

As always, it appears that what is needed is a great deal of advice. Maybe 2006 of will be the year of the adviser in spite of everything.

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