Martin Bamford, managing director, Informed Choice
“I hope that 2014 will be a year without too many surprises in terms of regulation. It would be useful to have a year where the impact of the retail distribution review could be properly assessed and firms could fully adjust to the new regulatory environment without being expected to implement too many other changes.
“My big wish for 2014 is that the Money Advice Service will be either shut down or converted to taxpayer funding. The recent 1 per cent budget cut was an insult to advisers, particularly with their ridiculous marketing budget maintained at previous levels.
“I hope to see the UK economy continue to grow strongly and interest rates held low for as long as possible, to allow people to recover from falling lifestyle standards since the recession.”
Luke Gibbon, director, IPFM
“Simpler regulation would be nice but it will not happen. It would be good if the regulator could give its directions in language that we can understand. It talks about us not using plain English when we deal with clients but it should practice what it preaches.
“I also wish the rules would stop changing all the time, particularly in pensions. The maximum income in drawdown keeps changing and so does the maximum funds you can hold in a pension – why keep fiddling with it?
“I’d also like wider acceptance of the benefits IFAs provide to society. We are investing money for clients who will have hopefully made a lot of money because of our advice. A lot of the time we are also helping on the social side because we take away the worries and concerns of our clients.”
Andrew Mann, director, CDC Wealth Management
“One of the things I would like to see is more pragmatic regulation for small IFA firms because the regulation we have to deal with is becoming so burdensome. Large firms have robust compliance departments and the resources to deal with it. We do not have that and so a greater proportion of our resources are spent on it.
“I wish for healthy stockmarkets – I’d like to see a continuation of strong earnings as this drives financial markets in the long term. And for a more orderly or manageable pick up in inflation, I’d like to see the monetary authorities be able to cope with that.
”The other thing I’d like to see is a return to rationality among investors. Over the last couple of years we have seen abnormal returns from low-risk investments. People have flocked to them and as a consequence can’t make up their minds if they are high risk or low-risk investors, so they oscillate between the two. I think customers have to be more realistic about risk and returns.”
Michael Both, proprietor, Michael Philips IFA
“I’d like the Government to settle on its rules for auto-enrolment and then stick to them. The constant changing regarding commissions then fees then maximum annual management charge are awful for confidence.
“Low charges are an issue but so is the cost of delivery, advice and service. What works for huge schemes is bonkers for the smallest ones, so the schemes offering auto-enrolment should be able to design a product for their market then let the market and competition decide.
“I also wish the Government would stop taking nonsense about Isas. Saying it may cap them will kill the savings market and less saving is just what the country doesn’t need. How about allowing any mix of cash and stocks and shares and have all the income, including interest in stocks and shares Isas tax free?”
David Hollingworth, head of communications, London & Country Mortgages
“Help to buy gathered momentum in the second phase of 2013. We’ll see more competition in the high LTV end and that will be a good development.
”Hopefully the withdrawl of funding for lending will not lead to too much of an increase in mortgage rates. We will have to see how the data goes in terms of whether that provokes another base rate increase. It would be surpsing if that happens in the next year but there will be some discussions about when that might come.”
Bruce MacFarlane, partner, Capital Trust Financial Management
“I’m relatively optimistic for 2014. As a firm we have found the transition from commission to fees not too bad. I don’t think the RDR has done IFA businesses any harm but I do have a slight fear of how far down we can go in cutting away fees on the fund management side.
“There is pressure on fund managers to get clean share classes or whatever they are called and at some point in time it will damage the industry. I wish someone would stand up and say we need to make money in order to have quality fund management businesses. It would also be good to see more competition coming from platforms.”