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Troubled times show the true worth of advice

At times like these, it may be brought home to IFAs just what they are for.

Unit trust sales are at a low and many fund values have plummeted with the markets. Split-cap investment trusts are looking vulnerable to the banks calling in their loans. Many stockmarket-linked “guaranteed” bonds are set to invoke all manner of penalties on investors&#39 capital. And it couldn&#39t be a worse time to have to buy an annuity. Some life office balance sheets, vulnerable through a combination of bad practice and a passive acceptance or reckless embracing of price-capping, are in a parlous state, with implications across their product ranges.

Equitable Life casts a shadow over everything and will do so for at least a few more months. In many ways, it could not look worse for the investing public or the investment industry.

Advising in this climate is challenging but that is exactly what advice is all about. Some advisers will find their past recommendations sorely tested by the market conditions. But at least, there will be someone on the end of the phone for investors to complain to and to talk to about adjusting their strategy.

We know of one IFA whose lucky clients have been in the best-performing building society savings accounts for the last few months. He might say his clients have made their own luck in seeking advice.

At least with IFAs, there is always one when you need one. Let us hope the assorted reviewers and regulators bear that in mind when they initiate their various assaults.

Meanwhile, in these troubled times,pity the poor direct investor.

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