Allowing for holidays, there is little more than two years before the new regulatory regime begins and firms that have not yet committed to a long-term future in financial services have surely reached a significant tipping point.
There is no time for further procrastination and no time for second chances so it is essential to get your planning and preparations right first time.
At this late stage, most firms will need help to change their businesses in readiness for the retail distribution review.With so many consultants and firms to lend their expertise, it is crucial firms and advisers fully assess the range of services available to ensure they are not wasting money and time on a transition process that fails to deliver RDR compliance.
Despite the claims of some so-called experts, there are no quick fixes, fast-track solutions or self-help manuals that can guide you through this process, for which I am glad.
The RDR requires engagement across the business to ensure the team will collectively deliver the right job for the client. Talented people with hands-on experience, expertise and a successful track record to support a thriving financial services business are few and far between. Even fewer are those experts who will align their motivation to that of the owners of the business.
There is an abundance of seminars and roadshows promising RDR enlightenment but they offer an arm’s-length approach. Without a structured route map and ongoing support and expertise, the re-engineering of your business could fail at implementation stage.
Creating a client-centric proposition is not something that can be achieved by sending a delegate to a conference but a conference will provide a good insight of what needs to be included in your transition process.
Firms need to appreciate that the free advice and support from life offices and technology providers comes at a hidden cost. Canny IFA firms will recognise providers are using RDR either to introduce their platform proposition or to access your client data.
Far too many advisers are already pumping client funds on to platforms without a proper service proposition. This a one-dimensional approach doomed to failure or requiring significant and costly restructuring when the full process is in place and this kind of switching is potentially another misselling scandal. Platforms are not the whole answer – they come at the end of the process
Is it wrong for me to be so optimistic about a process that has so far yielded so little, especially when, so often, regulatory change resembles the world of Lewis Carroll – no matter how fast the Red Queen runs, she stays put.
This time, it feels different. The RDR is the most important thing that will ever happen in our industry – a major leap forward in establishing financial services as a profession and not even a change of Government has derailed the process.
Simon Chamberlain is chief executive of Succession Advisory Services.