In Focus: 10 years of RDR  

RDR ended my career, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me

Wesley Wilkes

Wesley Wilkes

My mother-in-law had recovered from bowel cancer and wanted to treat us all, particularly our daughter, her only grandchild at the time, to a trip to Lapland.

It was there, in December 2012, after a day of excursions, when I turned on my phone back at the hotel to find a slew of messages from several friends at the bank. The one that stuck in my mind was: “What did you make of the call?” My reply, of course: “What call? I’m in Finland”.

At that time, I was one of the thousands of advisers at Santander bank. I rang my friend back and he explained that the call was to inform all financial advisers within Santander to stop any client meetings until further notice.

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This was the bank’s latest decision, after nearly a year of trying to discharge its duties under the new Retail Distribution Review regime, mainly on charging structures and the removal of commissions from investment sales/advice. This seemingly temporary hiatus soon became a more permanent position. 

Now, there were thousands of highly paid employees unable to generate income for the bank and a senior structure unable to make the transition to RDR work in a way that the Financial Conduct Authority was comfortable with. Inevitably, this led to talk of redundancies.

I was forced to ponder my future. I took advice from many industry friends, but most importantly my father, who had run his own business for as long as I can remember. I felt the time might be right for me to do the same, after all, I had been at Santander for a little over two years.

It was a turbulent time as I had the thrill of considering building my own practice, along with the responsibilities of a family, a mortgage with all the trimmings and the fact that being made redundant was, well, petrifying.

As the conversations with my boss developed, he was excellent during this time, we discussed redeployment to other roles across the organisation which were not in financial or investment advice.

Some of my colleagues chose that route. However, the old phrase ‘if not me, who? And if not now, when?’ kept reverberating in my mind. So, I took the redundancy option and decided to make a go of it.

I used the months between that decision and my end date to meticulously plan and make the decisions that would allow me to deliver financial and investment advice in the way I would wish to.

I’m a huge believer in using technology to improve whatever service you deliver and while a lot of my colleagues joined St James's Place for the feeling of something ‘similar to the bank’, I joined True Potential as a wealth partner.