Advisers should voluntarily raise the bar post-RDR
We should be dictating how our industry becomes a profession by taking the lead on qualifications, CPD and ethical standards.
There is now less than five months before the changes demanded by the retail distribution review fully come into effect. The early pessimists predicting the annihilation of IFAs will be proved wrong, which is how it should be. Yet I cannot help but think that many people made things harder then they needed to be.
I do not mean to sound like a braggart but I have found the entire ‘getting ready for RDR’ process a bit of a doddle. In fact most of the IFAs I knock around with have found the qualifications a bit of a breeze. Barring some gap-fill, most were already qualified before the RDR requirements were announced all those years ago.
Way back in 1994, fresh from taking the financial planning certificate, I decided to take the advanced financial planning certificate. I took three papers in the course of one and half days, and passed all three. The papers were easier then. I passed them all, and then added to them – an exam here and an exam there.
The early pessimists predicting the annihilation of IFAs will be proved wrong, which is how it should be
It is strange to think that 18 years ago it was possible to be RDR qualified, and yet we still have people scrabbling for the finish line. What have they been doing for all that time? But that pretty much sums up the attitude of this industry, does it not? Whether it is providers or intermediaries, it requires legislation or regulation to get things done.
I was around at the start of regulation. The industry tried self-regulation but too many fought against it or assumed that because it was not mandatory they could safely opt out. Well look at what that spawned. Then with much kicking and screaming we were forced to become formally qualified. They were not hard exams but the old hands argued that they should be grandfathered across.
Again and again the old guard have resisted the call for greater professionalism, whether it is stronger regulation or higher qualifications. They have done themselves no favours, and done the industry no favours. For those that make it past the RDR deadline by the skin of their teeth, good for them, they stay in business. But they will get no sympathy from me for their struggles because they have had a long time to do this. At least 18 years by my reckoning.
But we should not stop here, because sure as eggs are eggs, the bar will be raised again. We do not know when and we do not know how high, but with an exam here and an exam there, more people can be ready next time. This time we should take the challenge on voluntarily, without waiting to be told. We should be dictating how our industry becomes a profession by taking the lead on qualifications, continuous professional development and ethical standards.
Many of the people I know have already exceeded the minimum qualification requirements. Several people I have met who were initially resistant have been inspired to reach even higher. The value of obtaining higher qualifications is not just to stay in business, but is helping them and their businesses. Bring it on, they say.
Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning