Transition to RDR: Benefit to being vertically integrated

The transition

Attivo has been fee-based for almost 12 years so, by Mr Harper’s own admission, the choice on remuneration models was easy for them.

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“So for all our investments and pensions, we are completely transparent with fee charging and initial fees and agreed fee with the client. For us on the fee side of things there was no change.”

Attivo is a chartered adviser firm but not all the advisers are chartered. For a firm to call itself chartered, 50 per cent of the board have to be chartered, Mr Harper explains.

“Regarding qualifications, all of us apart from two had to do something in the last 12 months. But also it’s about keeping yourself relevant and keeping yourself up to date.

“If anybody thinks in any walk of life, but certainly in financial services where you have a responsibility for other people’s money, that you can actually start a career or a profession and never have to review your knowledge or develop your skills then you are completely deluded.”

Attivo has a culture where everyone has to develop their learning and all the paraplanners have to be at least diploma qualified.

“It is not a regulatory requirement but we insisted that a paraplanner should be at least as qualified as an IFA for the last decade. The minimum standard for a paraplanner is diploma qualified because if a paraplanner is doing true paraplanning they need to be at least as competent as an IFA or else they are just an administrator.

“Why should we call them a paraplanner and pay them a paraplanner salary if they are not? I think as an industry we have to have standards,.

“To progress they have to pass exams or else you cannot progress and there is a pay scale that is directly linked to it. And we have a culture where once they pass relevant exams, we refund them and support them with time off.

“You have got to embrace it, you have got to develop it and we have to drive the skills up at all levels not just advisers.”

Informing clients

Prior to the RDR, Attivo wrote to all of its clients - almost 3,000 - informing them of the incoming regulation and the changes that would bring.

“The letter listed the changes that the RDR will bring. The letter included our new client agreement with both offerings and the cost schedule so every client has had that in black and white and they are given the opportunity to talk to us and meet with us.

“With regards to fees, nothing has really changed as we have been transparent for the almost 12 years. However, for most of the industry, these are big changes.