Speaking at the Aifa annual dinner last night, Shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson told guests he understood the changes forced on the industry by the RDR are of huge concern to advisers.
He read out a letter he had received from an IFA in his constituency who was concerned the RDR would lead to less people getting advice, that advice becoming more expensive and the mid-market being left to the banks. “I think that is the authentic voice of the sole practitioner IFA,” said Waterson.
Waterson questioned whether the RDR timetable was achievable given the extra qualifications and system changes that were needed. He also questioned whether exams should take precedence over experience and work-based training.
He said: “On the face of it, given the complexity of the system I have described, it seems fair that a higher level of qualification will be required to give out advice.
“But while no-one can object to raising the standards of training and competence, should an emphasis on exams take precedence over on-the-job training and experience? Is the 2012 implementation date practicable given the extra qualifications and changes in systems that will be required to be in place?
Waterson said the two key measures of success from the RDR should be the extent to which the availability of advice and guidance is increased and that it raises the level of consumer engagement with financial services.
Waterson also warned that the RDR may conflict with the current European review of retail financial products “leading to a confused message”.
Previously the Tories have been careful not to offer much of an opinion on the RDR. In an interview with Money Marketing at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this autumn, Shadow financial secretary Mark Hoban refused to answer questions about the RDR and said it was a matter for the regulator.