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This week in Regulation

Aifa’s call for the introduction of limited or focused advice on specific product areas has been welcomed by many in the industry as long as important caveats are established.

Personal Finance Society public affairs director John Ellis says its an interesting idea to throw into the mix with the current quality of advice review taking place although worries this could potentially be a ‘pretty murky area’ unless specific safeguards were put in place.

Institute of Financial Planning chief executive Nick Cann agrees in principal with Aifa’s call for a simpler more robust system but says there could be dangers in advisers not getting a full enough understanding of a client’s situation.

Bearing in mind this week’s research from Which? castigating advisers for bad practice- less than half of IFA’s researched reached Which?’s benchmarks for good advice- it is yet to be seen whether the regulator will be in the mood for any relaxation in this area.

The FSA is currently interviewing interested bodies as part of its quality advice review following on from the dreadful standards it uncovered among some adviser firms in July.

It is also understood to be uneasy with parts of the current menu and disclosure regime- which will have to be updated in the coming months anyway to take account of Mifid- so it might be good time for Aifa to raise its proposal.

IFAs came much higher that tied advisers in Which?’s research which is a good reminder of the value of independent advice compared to a tied sales force at a time when banks look set to use Mifid as a way of trying to except its staff from any menu obligations.

On the political circuit there will not be too many people counting on Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton continuing his role into a Brown premiership after noticeably failing to endorse the Chancellor as a future Prime Minister this week.

Despite Blair’s U-turn on a departure timetable the next few months look far from producing solid political ground and the industry will be anxious that pension reform does not fall through any cracks that appear.

Elsewhere to cut taxes or not is an issue causing friction within Tory ranks even if David Cameron’s smooth manoeuvring has stopped the matter developing into a huge public row.

The Thatcherite No Turning Back group leaked parts of its pamphlet to be launched at this year’s conference calling for tax cuts in income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and stamp duty on homes.

John Redwood chairs the group- on top of his official Tory duties as chair of the Economic Competitiveness Group- with prominent supporters thought to include Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Theresa Villiers.

When the proposals were put to Cameron on radio this week he rejected them stating stability was still priority number one so it will not be long before this deep divide comes to a head.

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