I find myself agreeing with the patently laudable motives for this new regime. How it is implemented leaves me with raised blood pressure and short of breath.The whole thing is a bit like going into Dixons and asking it to provide its operating costs and everyone else’s too. You can be sure that retailers would tell their regulators where to get off. I have already come across a client who obtained two mortgage quotations from different advisers and thought they showed the costs to be broadly similar. I pointed out that one was hundreds of pounds cheaper than the other. I want, as much as the next person, to have complete transparency and honesty in our dealings but you can’t summarise in two pages a complicated set of figures. The FSA seem to launch one initiative after the other and then drop it just as quickly. And each time I waste valuable resources researching and implementing its grand designs. I have a vision of many FSA departments all beavering away, working on their own special projects – individually they seem to make sense, but as a collective it is a quagmire. It believes its work is simple and undemanding and will improve the lives of consumers. But the reality is somewhat different. A good example of this is the ethics committee last year. Has anyone heard a squeak more about this initiative? It sounds suspiciously like treating customers fairly to me. Garry Heath wrote in Money Marketing’s 20th anniversary edition of the “cabal of politiciansâ¦ who cook up the next problem in the full knowledge that the industry will pay for it.” He goes on to say, “It is not in their vested interests for the industry ever to be seen as a safe environment for the public to invest”. Heath has hit the nail on the head. My own way to describe this is less poetic. Ben Elton’s book about pollution, called This Other Eden, portrays Greenpeace-style campaigners who turn out to be environmental baddies all along. Create fear and you have a job for life. Clearly there is an imbalance of power. I would love to suggest that our freedom of press is the counter to this but the way things are going, this sinister feeling seems to get worse, not better. I have often heard the criticism that smaller IFAs should stand up and be counted and respond to the consultation papers that cross our screens. This lack of feedback gives the FSA the impression that it is doing a good job as its consultations go virtually unanswered. Truth is, we are all too busy or too small to respond – this is where Aifa and life offices must do their bit on our behalf. Instead of good old-fashioned regulations with real and tangible evidence of efficacy, we are subjected to ephemeral rules that cover people’s backs, but do nothing to stop the determined crook. The confusion we now live with is so deep-rooted and profound that we can’t even decide who’s fault something is once it’s happened. We all know the pharmaceutical analogy – it isn’t the prescriber of a dangerous drug that is blamed but the prescriber of a toxic product seems to be. It’s a contrast that many of my peers have problems reconciling. So yet again, we have a new system in the menu that seems to be badly thought through, great in theory but less so in the real world. Tom Kean is compliance officer director at The Analysts
The investigation being conducted by HMRC’s offshore fraud projects team does not mean that UK investors cannot hold offshore accounts but individuals who are resident and domiciled in the UK must report their offshore accounts to HMRC.
The FSA has warned a number of providers over the promotion of VCTs after conducting a review of the marketing of 15 asset managers. The warning comes just six months after the regulator said it would investigate the growing popularity of VCTs and concerns that providers may be targeting unsuitable lower income investors.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has threatened not to deal with enquiries from the IFA Defence Union after accusing its chief Evan Owen of harassment and intimidating behaviour. Senior legal adviser Louise Reilly has written to Owen describing an email addressed to one of her colleagues as hostile and intimidating. She warns that the FOS will […]
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s calculated attack on the FSA shows the Government lacks a coherent strategy on the regulator, claims Tory Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Field. The MP for London and Westminster says Blair’s stinging speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research in May – in which he acknowledged the damaging […]
By James Hackman, head of US Equities at Neptune With a growing dividend market, very low payout ratios and high dividend cover, the US is one of the standout equity income markets globally. It is also one of the most unloved. James Hackman, manager of the top-performing Neptune US Income Fund, highlights six key facts […]
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The curious goings-on in the world of financial services
Experts have played down any immediate moves from the FCA towards those firms that are not prepared for Mifid II regulation that comes into force on 3 January 2018. However, concerns remain that a “material number” of small asset managers have not yet started preparing for the major European regulation. The FCA expects firms to […]
OMGI chief executive and star fund manager Richard Buxton is set to lead a management buyout of the single-strategy funds division of Old Mutual Wealth with the backing of TA Associates. The £550m deal is set to be announced before Christmas, Sky News reports. The buyout is part of Old Mutual’s managed separation, which is […]