Vertical integration; the myth is finally being exposed

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If there’s one thing guaranteed to get me on my soap box, it’s the prevalence of vertical integration in financial services. There’s no doubt that it is polarising the profession and, in my view, skewing client outcomes. I am therefore delighted that the FCA is proposing action on the subject. The RDR ‘loophole’ Let’s cast...

Adviser fees, turnover and type of advice: How do you compare?

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I’ve been studying the FCA’s latest data bulletin which focused on the retail intermediary sector; the spotlight it shines on our profession is fascinating. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t on the top of your reading list, but I can highly recommend it. Some of the statistics it reveals are hugely useful, allowing you...

The dirty dozen: 12 signs your website needs updating

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As the foundation for a successful marketing strategy, I firmly believe every advisory firm should have a website. But, once it has been built, too many advisers gleefully tick it off their to do list and then promptly forget about it. That’s a mistake. The design of your website probably has a shelf life of...

What the FAMR could learn from Dutch attitudes to cyclists

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Simon Willoughby, head of proposition, AXA Wealth International, writes about his recent trip to Amsterdam and what the Financial Advice Market Review could learn from the Dutch.

I’ve recently returned from a late summer break in Amsterdam where it rained persistently for five days while the UK was enjoying a few days of an ‘Indian Summer’! Before I left for Amsterdam, the main news item seemed to be the joint FCA and HMT review of the UK financial services industry. And with the update issued recently, the news is rumbling on.

Regulatory fees: To get change we must focus on the right target

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I am compelled to address the thorny issue of regulatory fees.

The bills received recently by Sense members, and of course those of all other advisers, have risen dramatically; the largest increase we have seen is an eye watering 300%.

We all know that the current system is unsustainable. The FSCS levy, for advisers with pension permissions, has risen three fold compared to last year and it is already warning that it may breach the £100 million levy cap on intermediaries.

My pension predictions, how did I do?

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In the run-up to the Summer Budget, the good people at Sense Network asked me for my thoughts  on pension policy. So, obediently, I came up with six predictions on what George Osborne could have in store for pensions on 8 July and beyond.

Sense Network has now come back and asked: so Rachel, how many did you get right?

Now, this is alarming. As a pension pundit you get used to sprouting your opinion on where the whole pension mess is going. But you are less likely to be pulled up a couple of months later and asked to revisit what you said. It’s like getting your homework marked in public. But here goes. This is how I did.

The Emperor’s new clothes

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Although I am a staunch supporter of the Pension changes, readers of this blog will know that I have been very concerned about the “Guidance Guarantee” and the potential for this to be delivered badly and without sufficient recourse to full advice.

The Government’s announcement that TPAS and MAS will be selected to deliver guidance is possibly the worse outcome imaginable. As an organisation, MAS has been rightly criticised for its performance and is currently undergoing a review requisitioned by the Treasury Select Committee. How then is it credible that they are given more work to do?

Better workplace pensions: it’s not just caps and commission

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In the immediate aftermath of the DWP’s snappily entitled paper “Better workplace pensions: further measures for savers” the wires were abuzz with talk of charge caps and the banning of Active Member Discounts (AMD) and commission.

Quite rightly so – these changes will have a significant effect on our industry (in fact you can read our own summary of the main issues here).

Much less attention has been given to the other key aspects of the paper – Quality and Governance.

The right to guidance

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There is an old joke that a camel is simply a horse designed by a committee. As the various stakeholders manoeuvre and jostle for positions on the Government’s Committee to design an appropriate at retirement service, I really do hope that the client’s needs are placed quite clearly at the centre of what emerges.

But I’m worried. The insurers seem to be split on whether or not it is possible for them to deliver a truly impartial service. Not surprisingly, the provider with the largest pension book, the Pru, want to play a role. Presumably, so that they can point maturities at their in house sales force: or am I being too cynical?

Will FCA Inducements Guidance halt the move to restricted?

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For the last 2 years, I have consistently warned that the anti-independence propaganda being spewed out by the big networks and nationals was driven by their addiction to provider money.

Last week’s Inducements guidance will make it far more difficult (even impossible?) for providers to pay for restricted or tied deals. The new guidance is significantly tighter than the original consultation: presumably because the FCA has finally become aware of the “dodgy deals” that were done in the run up to RDR.