Keith Richards reassures advisers on PFS future

Keith Richards reassures advisers on PFS future

Keith Richards, the outgoing chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, has moved to reassure members about changes following his departure this month.

Speaking on the FTAdviser Podcast, Richards said it was natural for people to be worried about what might change.

But he said: "I have no doubt, and I can give any member assurance, that I have got a great team at the Personal Finance Society. It is more substantial than when I took over, that's for sure and I can't imagine any reason why the standard drive and level of member support is going to stop any time soon.

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"You always have to give these things a bit of leeway. Change often feels a bit uncomfortable until you experience it. If it works, then great. And if it doesn't then both the PFS and the CII have to address that.

"None of us ever start off making a bad decision. It is only when it goes wrong that it becomes a bad decision and that's the point at which we do something to correct it. So with all best intentions, if the current activities have caused uncertainty or concern it is not intended and I think both bodies, the PFS and CII, will resolve that pretty soon."

There have been concerns among advisers about the CII's proposals to deregister the PFS as a legal entity, which they claim will undermine the advice profession - though the CII has said it is "committed to the continued development of the PFS".

Richards also addressed the Financial Advice Market Review process which he was involved in as PFS chief executive but which he said was hampered by Brexit.

He said: "Almost instantly [after the Brexit referendum] I can tell you from personal insight, all the relationships we built with Treasury staff and key people just went, pretty much within two or three weeks. I was constantly getting emails saying they were off on Brexit-related matters so that really fundamentally stalled the outcomes of the review."

But Richards said he was optimistic the issue of the advice market could be addressed again: "I wouldn't underestimate the power of everyone coming together. The problem that we often have is that we shout about it but we don't do anything about it. The sector is sometimes poorly represented.

"One of the things I've tried to do over the past eight years is try to get a professional body more involved in the debate with government and policymakers and that's exactly what we've done.

"The problem is that if you look at some of the consultations, given that there's the best part of 5,300 firms in the sector, often when the regulator goes into consultations they get a handful of responses. So what we've got to start doing is realising as a profession that if you really do want to have an influence, you've got to take the time, invest a bit of time, to put considered thoughts and opinions forward when government or regulators invite consultation."