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Global regulators look to UK's RDR

Global regulators look to UK's RDR

Global financial regulators are looking to implement a form of the UK's Retail Distribution Review (RDR) as their markets evolve. 

Countries across Africa and Asia are all considering a form of RDR in a bid to improve standards, restore trust and resolve any conflicts of interest around remuneration and commission.

Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, said the UK model would not be adopted wholesale because each jurisdiction was different and had different needs, but would be adapted for each domestic market. 

He told FTAdviser: "We have found regulatory regimes are focused on the raising of standards across the board, addressing some of the conflicts of interest that prevail, especially around remuneration and commission.

"There are also trust issues that need to be resolved. In some parts of the world, financial advisers are not as trusted as they should be, and so there are similar comparisons to draw with the UK experience.

"Also, more countries, such as in Africa and Asia, are moving away from the old, traditional insurance-based savings products, and this evolution will speed up as they adopt open architecture."

While the UK RDR brought in QCF Level 4 as a mandatory minimum requirement for investment advisers, without which they cannot get the statement of professional standing (SPS) needed to operate, Mr Richards said not all countries would necessarily bring in such stringent measures on advisers.

That said, there would be an "inevitable raising of standards", following a form of mandatory qualification and, depending on the individual regulatory regime, some countries might adopt a higher standard similar to the UK.

For example, Australia's regulators are currently exploring proposals to bring advisory standards up to a level four equivalence as a minimum.

But Mr Richards was quick to dismiss suggestions other countries' advice provision was lacking. He said: "Some people have described other countries' advisory regimes as a Wild West but I have not found this to be the case. In many parts of the world, for example in Asia, advisers are degree holders and many are chartered.

"Even though some countries only require a simple licence to trade, and there is no mandatory requirement to the same degree that is required under the UK's RDR regime, there is a form of licensing and testing that is to at least level three standards.

"But the common issues around conflicts of interest, opaque charging structures and a lack of confidence among consumers that the market puts their interests first - these are being discussed and regulators are looking at the way the UK implemented the RDR as a means of resolving these issues."

Last week, Mr Richards was in Johannesburg, South Africa, taking part in the African Experience Exchange (Insurance and Financial Planning across the Continent).