‘Start with a blank sheet’: Wingate’s RDR plans
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In focus: Future of Independence
Alistair Cunningham, director of advisory firm Wingate Financial Planning, expects mergers of IFA firms to increase post-Retail Distribution Review. The firm has recently merged with IFA firm Francis Townsend and Hayward.
According to Mr Cunningham, director of Surrey-based Wingate Financial Planning, the move by FTH to join Wingate is an example of behaviour we can expect more of as the Retail Distribution Review approaches. Wingate Financial Planning has two financial advisers and shares it office with Wingate Benefits Solutions and FTH.
He said: “Them joining us is a deliberate attempt for them to share our intellectual property and move to a more RDR friendly model, but as it happens I think they are quite good already.
Direct-to-consumer just doesn’t fit with what we do as a firm - you can’t please everybody or you will end up pleasing nobody
“I think probably for one to two man bands, directly authorised will pretty much cease to exist come RDR, over a space of two to three years particularly if you want to be independent.
“The length and breadth will by enormous for one and two man bands to remain independent although the FSA has been softening it.
Mr Cunningham says such IFA firms have four options: join a network, merge with another company, buy intellectual property such as model portfolios or investment strategies from a specialist company, or simply accept the restricted label.
However, Wingate has so far refrained from entering the intellectual property market.
Mr Cunningham said: “We don’t because I don’t think it’s available at a reasonable price compared to other options on the market. What we need to charge to make it worthwhile would be a level other people would not want to pay.
“If you are a one and two man band paying £1,000 or £2,000 per month, my view would be go restricted.”
RDR: Almost there
Because Wingate is a relatively new company - founded from whole cloth in 2008 - Mr Cunningham claims most RDR changes other firms are scrambling to complete have always been part of Wingate’s business model.
Other than “loads of paperwork”, there isn’t much left for Wingate to do.
“If I look at the eight or nine things we should be doing, we have already done seven of them. One thing we don’t do is break down the cost in specific product wrappers. It’s a small point.
“Up until fairly recently no-one’s known what the guidance is.
“All we need to do is make sure everything we have been doing for four or five years meets the standard which, in broad strokes, it does. We just need to dot some ‘i’s and cross some ‘t’s. We have been RDR compliant since the company was formed in 2008.”
Wingate’s advisers are all level four qualified with gap fill and have their statements of professional standing. They also comply with the FSA’s capital adequacy requirements and documentation of remuneration.