With Brexit ongoing and the PFS Annual Conference imminent, Keith Richards looks at what the PFS and the adviser community are doing in these uncertain times
The PFS Annual Conference is fast approaching, with the focus this year being ‘Futureproof – Safeguarding Your Clients and Your Business’. With all the turmoil going on in the world, this theme feels more and more relevant. Financial advice professionals have always demonstrated a high level of resilience, largely thanks to their commitment to building strong personal relationships and achieving the best outcomes for their clients.
The conference will be an enjoyable opportunity to talk about these challenges as a professional community. We are hoping it will have the opposite effect to watching the news during the last few weeks.
The more we take responsibility for creating change, the less change feels like a threat. One great example of this is the launch of the Gold Standard guide for pension transfers, which you have responded to magnificently. More than 1000 firms have participated, making it one of the great success stories in financial services during recent years.
The fact that professional indemnity insurers have recognised the importance of the Gold Standard in their underwriting process is one of many responses to the programme that tells me it is making a real impact across the whole market.
Despite the ongoing saga of Brexit, I am pleased we are still able to present the deal announced in 2017 between the PFS and the European Financial Planning Organisation (EFPA) as more relevant than ever. It will provide enormous benefits for UK advisers operating across Europe, regardless of how or when the UK leaves the EU. This is because the agreements around mutual recognition are made with national syllabus-setting bodies, and not at EU level.
Regardless of the politics of the situation, our position continues to be to support all advisers in their work, to ensure both you and clients are supported every step of the way
Back in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published an update on its work around evaluating the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) and the Retail Distribution Review, which we responded to in early June. I was pleased to see it had acknowledged our concerns around the conflict between the FCA’s recent changes to the ombudsman limit, although more work needs to be done.
We have stuck to the crucial message that all of the FCA’s work – whether it is about the FAMR, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or about ombudsman limits – must be joined up in a way that improves the public’s access to advice. These are not issues that can be dealt with in silos.
On 30 July, the FCA published its latest consultation on pension transfers. We have already had valuable input from Pensions Transfer Gold Standard holders on this issue, for example around the fundamentally different nature of pre-retirement and at-retirement advice on transfers. We will include all your vital feedback in our response.
In addition to the PFS-EFPA deal, it would be remiss of me not to mention the impending date of 31 October. There are numerous irresistible forces and immovable objects in play, so at the time of writing it would be foolish for anyone to attempt a prediction, but the truth remains that all possibilities are still on the table.
For example, despite the efforts of the current UK parliament, we could still have a no-deal exit if the EU and the UK fail to reach a deal and the EU decides not to offer an extension. As a result, it is still important for you to continue to talk to clients about the potential impact of this uncertainty on their investments. Advisers will continue to be the steady hand on the tiller throughout the political volatility around us.
Regardless of the politics of the situation, our position continues to be to support all advisers in their work, to ensure both you and clients are supported every step of the way. In this, I have full confidence in the work we have done to increase our activity across the piece in 2019 and we will continue to work with you beyond the October deadline.
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For more information and to offer your feedback, please visit:
PFS member email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pension Transfer Gold Standard: thepfs.org/ptgs
PFS financial planning and good practice: pfspower.org
Good practice hub: thepfs.org/good-practice