Do as I say, not as I do

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Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and their ilk are, much like regulatory bodies, fond of making grand gestures and sweeping statements, but do they really know what individuals want, and how to meet their needs?

Election campaign promises never cease to hit the headlines and stir up controversy, whether it is a pledge for free dental check-ups, a vow to help rectify any financial problems caused by raising the state pension age for women born in the 1950s, or a lack of any properly funded social care package.

But what bothers me is that if parties can make such promises, why haven’t they already been doing these excellent things while in power? Probably because some policy wonk just loves to push papers and reviews around Whitehall for the next four years, while we take up column inches trying to decipher their consultations and calculations.

Speaking with a small, one-man band independent financial adviser this week, I was reminded of the penchant for regulatory officials to do the same thing: spend years promoting a new piece of regulation, consult on it thoroughly and then leave the industry to get on with it until something goes wrong.

Of course, regulators don’t tend to get ‘re-elected’ every four years, and there is no recourse to swap them out for a different style of regulator if we do not like the current one. But as the adviser commented: “What they ask us to do and what they do themselves are two different things.

“They tell us not to shoe-horn clients into a one-size-fits-all investment strategy or pension product, but they shoe-horn all of us into their policies. Everyone from car financing to big banks to small financial advisers have to fit into the directives the Financial Conduct Authority puts in place.”

People in authority telling individuals to do one thing, while they do another? That sounds remarkably like Westminster as well. 

Perhaps we should vote in the regulators on a rolling basis to hold them accountable?

Simoney Kyriakou is editor of Financial Adviser