AIFA and AMI lead calls for ‘robust questioning’ of regulation

Amanda Jarvis

March 16, 2006

The keynote address at the conference was delivered by Walter Merricks, Chief Ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Mr Merricks talked about managing the unpredictable demands made upon their service; how they were coping with a four-fold increase in their workload, and finding new ways to respond to the needs of smaller firms. He also discussed their examination of a new funding structure.

Mr Merricks said, “As we often remind the industry, the majority of complaints against IFAs are not upheld. But we are aware that when a small firm, in particular, has received more than the two “free” cases allowed each year, the fact that these further complaints may not be upheld provides little comfort since the firm still has to pay the case fees. We realise that this can cause resentment and I have some sympathy with this. We will be publishing a consultative paper next month which will address how we are funded and the issues surrounding the case fee and the general levy.”

Other headline speakers were: Michael Lord, Head of Mortgages and Credit Unions at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Heather Tilson, Head of Communications at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The conference was introduced by Chris Cummings, Director General of AIFA and AMI, who spoke about the challenges facing the intermediary industry, such as the rising costs of the Compensation Scheme, the review of FOS, FSA accountability and European regulation.

Chris Cummings, said, “The costs and burden of regulation creep up year upon year. Taken on their own, each may look reasonable, of little concern. That is why we must always question – is this necessary? How much will it cost? What benefit will result? Without robust questioning, regulation will strangle growth, entrepreneurship and the essential dynamism that actually benefits consumers.

“This conference provides a prime opportunity for our members to obtain feedback on regulation and policy changes, either in implementation or discussion phases, from top level speakers from within the industry. ”

He continued, “With so much happening in the sector, it is our main task to ensure that we communicate to our members what the key issues are in the current business and regulatory environment which will have an impact on their firms.”

Speakers from the industry were: David Felix Davidson, MD, Plumsoftware; Rachel Vahey, Pensions Development Manager, Scottish Equitable; Chris Howard, MD, 4Property; Jan Holt, Head of Sales – Equity Release, Prudential; John Whitehead, MD, CDS, and Simon Conn, MD, Conti Financial Services.

A small number of exhibitors were also present, giving attendees the opportunity to network with product providers and identify new business opportunities.

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