Although one of FSA’s original objectives was to expand and improve consumer access to financial products, Martin fears that the current proposals will simply mean that many experienced financial advisers will leave the advice market and that professional financial advice may actually end up becoming the preserve of the wealthy minority.
Martin said: “Sesame has always supported the drive towards higher professional standards, but we must balance this against the cost of the change and the outcome for consumers. A headlong rush to higher levels of academic qualifications will not necessarily improve access and quality of advice for consumers, because it may disenfranchise many professional competent advisers who possess many years of experience.”
He continued: “FSA also need to set the costs of RDR within the context of the changed economic conditions. Advisers face increasing regulatory fees and levies, an increase in the capital they have to keep in their businesses, significant costs of sitting further examinations, and all of this during a period when business levels have been hit hard by the recession.”
“At a time when small businesses are already struggling, it appears somewhat counter-intuitive to load them with a heavier burden.”
He concluded: “A change of this magnitude needs careful consideration. The FSA has a responsibility to our profession, and to the public as a whole, to weigh up the costs of these changes against the benefits they will produce. Since the original Gleneagles speech much has changed and the drivers that produced the original RDR may no longer apply, or have been overtaken by other, even more powerful forces.”
“Although we understand and support many of the objectives of the RDR, the implementation of the measures needs to be pragmatic and rooted within a clear recognition that advisers and product providers face challenging times. FSA must ensure that the costs and impact of the changes are fully justified.”