Sesame: Industry has to stop fighting with regulator

The advisory industry should stop “infighting” as confrontation between the regulator and the market “has not served us well” and more time should be spent on common ground., according to Sesame Bankhall.

George Higginson, chief executive of the network and support services firm, highlighted that one example of this is individual mortgage broker registration, which he said is an excellent opportunity to “demonstrate to the regulator and government the steps that we are taking to clean up our profession”.

Sesame Bankhall will continue to work with the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries in the pursuit of a practical industry solution, he said.

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He said: “In order to build a brighter future for our profession and consumers it is imperative that we learn from past experiences and work together. Professionalism and pragmatism will be more important than ever.”

Looking ahead, Mr Higginson said the gloomy economic environment will continue to have an impact on the industry but there are several key intermediary markets that “scream” optimism for the coming year, including mortgages and protection.

He believes there could be a potential £10bn increase in the lending market next year, with the majority of this business expected to go through intermediaries.

Protection business is another market that is primed for growth, particularly if the industry does not see an upturn in the mortgage market, Mr Higginson said.

He said: “When I first started out as a financial adviser, adequate protection was always one of the first considerations for any client. You only have to look at the size of the protection gap to see the scale of the opportunity, given how underinsured the UK population are.

“In fact, this ‘back to basics’ philosophy could extend to many areas of business in the year ahead. I say this in light of another significant development next year - the transition from the FSA [Financial Services Authority] to the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority].”

Mr Higginson highlighted that Sesame has “invested heavily” in new propositions and adviser technology as part of its move to become a broad-based financial services group.

He said: “Our ability to offer a wide range of propositions – distribution, wealth management and mortgage services - puts us in a strong position for the new RDR world.

“In a challenging environment we have used these industry developments as an opportunity to evolve our business. We have put the building blocks in place for advisers to construct a business which is right for them and their clients – whether they choose to be independent, restricted or a hybrid of both.

“There will be opportunities in 2013 and we look forward to making the most of them. Our profession has been through many challenges in the past and I am confident that by working together we will emerge even stronger in the exciting new world ahead.”