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Q and A: Mark Polson

I’m not sure people knew necessarily what the intended effect of the RDR would be. But if it wanted to rid the system of bias – or perceived bias – then I think it’s still got a very long way to go.

A lot of the platforms and a few other areas were working in a transparent way already, and for them it is business as usual. For some other guys it was a massive change.

I don’t know the switch to clean share classes could have been done at one point. But I think advisers are finding it brutal. It is brutal; it’s horrible.

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The more platforms try to throw their weight around with super clean share classes and special deals and clever things round the back door, the worse it gets. Given that often we’re only talking about a few basis points difference, it would be much better if we could all get on the same page, take a breath, and then let market forces do their thing.

I don’t know how an adviser would pick at the moment. It’s very difficult and we are counselling anybody we work with that’s thinking about making a strategic decision.

Don’t make any decisions at the moment because you don’t have the information you need. Nobody should be making strategic decisions on the basis of share class availability I would say for another six to eight months.

I don’t think any platform is being bad about this stuff particularly. A few are muddying the waters – the three classics are Standard Life, Skandia and Hargreaves because they’re all pushing so hard for different treatment. It’s not making it easy.

It’s fun to watch them all try and rip each other apart – it’s good sport. But I’m just not sure it’s terribly helpful at this moment in time.

I wish 2016 wasn’t so far out because typically with advisers, there is no real sense of urgency yet on the legacy book. Some say “I’ve got two years, it’s loads of time” – no it’s not, it’s just not. I do think we’re lacking the sense of urgency around trail.

I think the platform market overpromised in its early days on what it could do. The truth is it wasn’t ready.

If I was setting up an advice business now, it would be a restricted one. To make advice economic for all but the wealthiest, it needs to have a lot of process around it.

Financial advice has become much more of a profession. There were always those that worked that way, but it is much less about product sales now.

The product has become advice. Advice at its best has moved to the centre of the value chain, everything else has been relegated.

Everyone hates to talk about them but St James’ Place and Towry are just outstanding marketing machines. There is lots to admire, whatever you feel about their propositions.