Simoney Kyriakou  

Keep the campaign march going

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

"I have not seen them roused like this for many an age. We do not like being roused; and we are never roused unless it is clear to us that our lives are in great danger."

With these words, Treebeard led the Ents to war against Isengard and thereby helped to turn the tide of the war for Middle-Earth in Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings

Advisers are also getting roused. Advisers have coped with a host of regulation thrown at them: the Retail Distribution Review, Mifid I and II, the senior managers certification regime, to name but three.

Add to this the pension freedoms decision made without any consultation in 2014 and brought into play in 2015 – the wellspring of so many problems for consumers and the pensions industry alike – together with a dash of Covid-19 and the right reasons are all there for advisers to be roused into taking a stand.

The stand is against unfair and disproportionate fee hikes imposed on the advice industry – the least resilient in the whole financial services supply chain.

The stand is against exponential professional indemnity insurance premiums that make it harder and harder for advisers to continue in business, especially as advisers all have to maintain a capital buffer to remain compliant.

Advisers may be proposing different solutions: an asset-based levy, or a product levy or even to call again for a 'polluter pays' model. 

However, the march of the IFAs is now all in one direction: towards parliament. The Treasury has the authority to call for a consultation on the funding structure of the Financial Conduct Authority and constituency MPs have been responding to advisers' letters to say they are urging the Treasury to do just that.

A consultation will give every adviser the opportunity to present their cases and, it is to be hoped, to be the catalyst for a change in the funding structure that will be fairer and more proportionate. 

Nobody is calling for an end to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Every adviser appreciates the value of consumer protection and good financial regulation. 

But to protect clients and help close the widening advice gap, fees need to be fairer. 

"We have a long way to go, and there is time ahead for thought," said Treebeard. "It is something to have started."

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com