Simoney Kyriakou  

Do MPs still think advice is like a burger bar?

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

It has been a decade since an MP likened advisers' qualifications to getting a shift management diploma at McDonald's. 

Has the attitude of members of Parliament - particularly the same Conservative party which was part of the coalition in 2010 - changed since then? 

If the lack of MP engagement over the summer break with letters advisers have been sending them is any indicator, then no. The same don't-care, not-my-problem attitude still prevails.

Back in 2010, during debates on the as-yet-consultation that would become the Retail Distribution Review, former MP Mark Hoban commented: "The current minimum financial adviser qualification is at the same level as a diploma in shift management offered by McDonald’s".

This wasn't forgotten - or forgiven. When he stepped down from politics in 2013, one wag calling himself Bob Diamond (remember that name?) commented in Financial Adviser: "It is sad Mr Hoban compares me and my mates at McDonald's with financial advisers as it has taken four years to achieve five Gold Stars, working long hours, seven days a week.

"I'm told it would only take me two years before I can give financial advice to the public. It took two years before they would let me use the microphone at the drive-through."

Since that time, advisers and the whole financial services industry have been warning of the growing advice gap, which started with the RDR and the loss of advisers from both high-street banks and small businesses. 

Subsequent layers of regulation and rising regulatory costs, together with the idiot brainwave of former chancellor George Osborne to 'fix' the annuity problem by creating even bigger pensions problems, have seen professional indemnity insurance costs rise, eye-watering levy hikes to fund the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and ever-rising costs of keeping the Financial Conduct Authority in business. 

The current chancellor Rishi Sunak claims to support small businesses; does this include the financial advisers in whose trust is the entire family wealth of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons? 

The chancellor claims he wants to see people enabled to take steps towards financial independence. Why are financial penalties being imposed on financial advisers who give so many hours each week to pro-bono work, to debt advice, to schools work? Where's the recognition of the adviser's contribution to society?

Where's the commitment to financial education in schools? The curriculum pays more attention to sex education than to helping young adults become financially resilient and keep out of debt. If the government is serious about building financial resilience, it must commit to a review of the funding structure of the FCA. 

It's almost as if ... but surely could not be ... that the government wants to support big business over small; protect the wealthiest while ignoring those in real need of financial advice; keep the masses indebted and uninformed to allow government to promote policies that widen the divide.