I have spent a few frustrating days completing our regulatory reports, as will have many other advisers in the last few weeks.
Don’t get me wrong: I get why this information is needed, but that is not my gripe; it is with Gabriel itself, which stands for GAthering Better Regulatory Information Electronically, which is the name of the FCA’s online reporting system. To start with, I do not understand why access to it is not unlimited and only within specified times.
Secondly, given the amount of information that must be put in, why does it only allow you a few seconds before you are logged out, not giving you a chance to save all those figures you have just painstakingly ensured were correct? There is no “autosave”. Wouldn’t that make sense?
My other complaint is that where totals are required, some formulae would enable additions and subtractions to happen automatically, making it easier also to change figures.
Further, it lacks consistency: some columns must have two decimal places, others do not, causing a rejection when you try to validate a report and having to delete all those noughts, to get it accepted.
Yes, there are training modules and videos, but you must come out of the system, wade through them, try and remember what you have learned and log back in.
It would be much easier to have pop ups at various stages, provided you had enough time to view them without being logged out again and losing all the information you have just entered.
Given the amount of regulatory fees that we pay, it would be fairer to improve the whole system and just make it easier to use.
Apparently the new retail mediation activities return (RMAR) forms introduced at the end of June are causing even greater confusion. There are claims of sloppy terminology and confusion about what is being requested, which is creating a huge amount of extra work for small firms already struggling to keep up with other regulatory demands.
The Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association is now calling for an urgent review by the Financial Conduct Authority into its RMAR reporting and I would wholeheartedly support this. If it is reviewed, perhaps the FCA will consult those who actually use it.
Marlene Outrim is a chartered financial planner at Uniq Family Wealth