Companies have been busying themselves with explaining the changes to their clients, mainly through long-winded pieces of literature that, more often than not, are too long, too jargon-heavy and thus confusing. Providers are also finding their way around the new rules and often taking a heavy-handed approach, insisting on new forms even where there are already clear client agreements in place.
At the other end of the spectrum, consumer headlines have focused heavily on the new method of payment and the charges consumers face. By presenting RDR in this light, it fails to provide new and existing clients with a balanced view.
Much better would be to offer a more simplistic account of the changes; putting across the key messages that you can expect, certain minimum qualifications of your adviser and transparency surrounding costs.
Relaying this in a non-sensationalist manner would do much more for both advisers and their client base.
Financial advice is much more than a transaction-led service; it is about nurturing client relationships and helping your client understand and map their financial goals.
The concept of the RDR is undeniably good and I am pleased that the watchdog is championing the rights of the consumer, but I fear its objective has been lost on the very people it is aiming to help. Take the key investor information documents that clients will now receive but actually offer very little help to investors.
A sort of measurement system – much like the food labels we see in the supermarkets – would tackle this issue, whereby clients would be given easy-to-read information on risk rating, charges and asset allocation. At the moment, these areas are still a minefield to some investors.