After all the excitement and upheaval of 2016, let’s hope for some stability in 2017. But that’s what we pined for last year.
Our aim and duty is to inspire confidence in our clients. They must believe that we are doing the very best for them whatever the state of the bond and equity markets, geo-political volatility and so on. They trust us and we must not abuse this trust.
We are all worried about scams, cyber and traditional ones which we must be vigilant about, and although often out of our control we must do our best to make sure that our businesses and our clients’ interest are protected and in the event of an attack, the damage mitigated.
We must continue to work closely with our regulators and professional member bodies to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. And here’s the rub - what we need is consistency and guidance from both the regulator and the legislator.
What will the impact of Mifid II really be? We need clarity and a really good steer on how this will affect us. How and when will it be implemented? May we please have stability in the pensions world – a meaningful lifetime allowance or scrap it altogether.
How will the crisis in the housing market really be addressed? Is it really simply a supply problem which generations of legislators and planners have failed to address? Or will the impact of Stamp Duty increases and the curbs on the buy-to-let tax breaks free up some stock, or gum things up?
“Shall I transfer out of my DB pension scheme?” a client asks, “After all, the 30 year bull bond market may be coming to an end – more of a crash rather than a whimper – I’ve read.” Could this be the next potential miss-selling scandal? Or should we be advising on this now?
As an industry, we have done pretty much everything the legislators and, in turn, the regulators have asked us. We are regulated, professionally qualified, abide by the rulings of the Ombudsman, pay the FSCS levy (however unfair we think they might be), take out the very robust PI insurance and make sure that our processes are bomb proof, but we still need to inspire confidence in our clients that the advice we give them is not only necessary, but a good long-term thing. To what extent should we be educating our clients?
I do not think that our clients will benefit from crystal ball gazing, the views of leading economists (they are all leading, aren't they), forecasts on market movements and interest rates nor trotting out rehashed forecasts from central bankers.
In 2017 they need the reassurance that their financial advisers hold the highest standards in trustworthiness, professionalism and integrity, particularly as the former bastions of probity, the High Street banks continue to behave appallingly to their customers – and you do not need to be a Daily Mail reader to know that. And they are plotting a return to the advice market!