In Focus: 10 years of RDR  

Understanding post-RDR charges is 'incredibly tough'

Understanding post-RDR charges is 'incredibly tough'

Transparent charging structures, as introduced by the Retail Distribution Review 10 years ago, are still "incredibly tough" to understand, even for providers, says Scott Dakers.

Speaking on the latest FTAdviser In Focus podcast, the business development director at Square Mile said: "We've gone a long way on the transparency but it is still a tough subject even for the provider to sit down and try and work out exactly where all their costs are coming from and put that in a document that somebody understands. It's incredibly tough."

He said: "It did make a lot of sense when it was just an all-encompassing charge and that was it, but we do have to try and explain it. 

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Martin Coyle, head of UK business development at Morningstar, agreed. He said: "We've been broadly positive about the past 10 years of RDR but this is probably an area where I think we as an industry still have some way to go. 

"While transparency is a good thing, it doesn't necessarily mean that clients, unaided, have a good understanding of the charges that are laid out before them, be it custody, be it fund charges... it doesn't matter, if you're not in the industry and you are a client you really do need an adviser to spend the time to actually help you understand what all those charges mean."

He said there were some benefits to pre-RDR when most advisers charged a flat fee but now that this is broken down into its various components, "that is a lot for the retail investor that is perhaps not investment savvy to actually take in and understand."

This problem is not unique to the UK, he said, countries such as his native Australia are grappling with this too.

"We have to look at why charges are the way they are and how the chain has come about," he said.

But both Coyle and Dakers though the RDR had successfully removed bias and conflict of interest in advice by scrapping commission payments.

Coyle said advisers were more in control of their charges now. "There's been a monumental shift in... removing bias," he said.

Dakers added: "The adviser charging is a very personal thing to the client and adviser relationship and I think clients are happy to pay for the service that they get as long as they get that service. That again is part of the reason for consumer duty, is maybe to align those a little bit more than they have been.

"But I think for all the advisers in the marketplace who are highly qualified, they do have much more emphasis on the client-adviser relationship. The clients are already at the heart of everything that they do.

"There will always be companies that provide great service, that there may be a closer allegiance to because of the service that they provide to the adviser. But in terms of being driven by monetary reward I'm not sure that exists anymore."