This won’t be the first time I have campaigned for the easement of rules being emitted from Canary Wharf and it will not be the last. After 25 years in the business, I have grown tired of the constant change and a disheartened at the prospect of a new regulator.
I believe complex rules allow the unscrupulous to thrive and the Financial Conduct Authority seems to be saying nothing that placates me.
The cynic in me fears the FSA is merely rolling over into a new body to avoid any future blame. The FCA can more easily say any problems did not occur on its watch, as happened with previous incarnations. It has been suggested that none of the current staff should be allowed to roll over en masse but the alternative clean-slate approach would seem impractical.
The grouch in me goes even further and fears a conspiracy. In the knowledge that it is effectively impossible to regulate such a disparate body of retail outlets, rolling over entities on a regular basis is essential given the utter shambles we find ourselves in.
The frustrating thing is that we never seem to learn from past mistakes, with the Arch cru debacle turning into another mess before our very eyes.
How can it be right to ask investors to complain about their advice – experience tells us people are perfectly willing to lie to gain an advantage?
To a large extent, pensions and endowments were a victim of their time. An investment world that saw unprecedented change conspired to work against the adviser and consumer alike in equal measures. Add to that widely disparate moral standards and it was a crash waiting to happen.
As much as we like to think we have the benefit of foresight, we do not. The current swathe of pension rules serves as a reminder of exactly what is wrong with this profession.
Take the lifetime allowance. What other sectors ask their participants to guess what the future holds? Not one of the people I have asked can follow the logic of capping both input and output.
It is an outrage that we are forced to work in a climate of complex guesswork and speculation. It can only lead to a loss of consumer confidence, less investment and greater risk of future problems.
If you had asked me to come up with a set of rules designed to confound your average pensions investor, it would look something like what we have now. It is possible to get things right – pension simplification taught us that – but capping money in and money out is yet another crash in the making.
My message to the FSA and anyone else who might be listening is easy – simplify, simplify, simplify, in everything you say and do. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Less truly is more and it will make your lives immeasurably easier in the future.
Tom Kean is director of Thameside Wealth Management