RDR’s compensation debate
Mis-selling appears to be the word of the year so far, and last week the focus was on Arch Cru.
Debate about the failed – and, according to the FSA, missold – fund range is still as vocal as ever, three years after the range was first suspended in the wake of the financial crisis.
In spite of all allegations aimed at Arch’s management of the funds and the role of the range’s authorised corporate director Capita – which both firms have repeatedly refuted – the main issue is whether advisers and others recommended or sold the products in a suitable manner.
The FSA’s random sample of sales found just 12 per cent of 179 Arch Cru sales were appropriate. Add to this the regulator’s research on inappropriate fund switches – along with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme’s (FSCS) pursuit of advisers who mis-sold failed Keydata products – and you could be forgiven for thinking that due diligence had become an optional extra for IFAs.
Advisers are right to argue that this behaviour is not representative of their industry as a whole. However, the FSA’s finger of blame is pointing at IFAs, and it isn’t going until the FSCS has pulled another cheque from your wallet.
At the same time as the regulators are questioning advisers’ due diligence, however, they are upgrading minimum standards for their qualifications and businesses. Whatever your view on the RDR, mis-selling is likely to become a rarer event if more advisers are better qualified and paid by their clients, rather than providers of financial products.
As a result, advisers need a voice to market their new RDR standards – and lobby for fairer clean-ups of pre-RDR issues. Since July, when it announced its intention to accept restricted advisers, Aifa lost its director general, failed to announce a replacement and has not lobbied effectively enough on FSCS reform. Should RDR-compliant advisers be compensating, as they are about to, for failed investment banks and spread-betting firms?
The pre-RDR debate over compensation for the likes of Arch Cru remains. Advisers – and Aifa – need to find a way of putting it behind them.