BLOG: RDR threat to everyday investors

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Written by:
28/09/2012
Banning commission on investment and pension advice has already hurt advisers - but could damage our consumer finances even more in the long run.
BLOG: RDR threat to everyday investors

If you are already a regular purchaser of financial advice and products through an adviser, you may well be familiar with the Retail Distribution Review, which is due to become law at the end of this year.

If, however, you are an occasional user, like myself, or are even contemplating getting advice in the near future, this new legislation might come as a bit of a shock.

The Retail Distribution Review is changing everything about the way we understand, purchase, and use advice. One of the key measures is to stop commissions on the sale of investments and pensions. This has subsidised the advice offered by firms and large banks in the past and enabled advisers to have seemingly acted on a “free” basis for clients, while the charges were then deducted annually from investors’ funds.

From January 2013, customers who want advice will be charged a separate and transparent fee.

At first glance, this measure seems perfectly reasonable but as ever the law of unintended consequences, which afflicts every policy drive, may render the transparency it achieves on one hand redundant on the other.

Unsurprisingly, several high street banks and many larger IFA firms have decided to focus their services on wealthier consumers who are more likely to be willing to pay, and have made hundreds of commission-based advisers redundant in advance of the changes.

This is going to leave a gaping hole.

The RDR is likely to limit access to financial advice, especially on investment products such as equity ISAs, trusts and bonds that people typically buy through advisers.

My concern is that we are creating a world of financial advice “haves” and “have –nots”. Moving from commission to upfront payments will come as a big shock.

Not many of us need to pay £500 to be told investing is a difficult business and that we can expect volatility and low returns for the next five to ten years as we deflate our way out of our national deficit.

If you have a significant amount of wealth then little will change. But getting the rest of us to save and invest is a pressing problem.

We live in a world where personal investing is key to everyone’s provision for old age. As a nation we have plenty of ill–advised and un-advised debt, but few of us have a plan to fund our retirement.

Removing the commission model entirely does nothing to help this.

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Debt

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