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FCA, asleep at the wheel or just showing off

Regulatory comment for financial advisers

7 Oct 2013

Will the removal of trail commission have a negative effect upon your business?

If our current snap shot poll is correct, as at 10.30am on 22nd October with nearly 800 votes cast, 90% of those that have responded say it will be catastrophic.

This poll has not seen much publicity yet.

Logic must tell anyone with any degree of intelligence that whatever the rights and wrongs of removal are, the destruction by retrospection of a huge chunk of intermediated distribution revenue and value is neither right, fair or reasonable.

 And if this is the outcome, it is not good for consumers either.

How will it affect your business, will it destroy your business? Is the FCA aware, are politicians aware, do they care?

The poll link is here, let us know and see for yourself you’re your peers are saying.

Recently we heard FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones saying " “Yes, there may be side effects or unintended consequences and over the coming months we at the FCA will monitor developments in the market extremely closely. In particular we are alert to the advice gap issue and actually very interested to see where you, as part of a very competitive market place, go for new solutions that might meet the advice gap customer needs.”


Many of the unintended consequences (and this is one of them) as Griffith-Jones put's it, were quite avoidable and were in many cases forewarned consequences. Now would be a good time for some meaningful listening and learning on the part of the regulator to avoid, not an advice gap, but an advice chasm.

As with almost every significant well intended aspect of UK regulation over the years, this may well prove to be an avoidable catastrophe from start to finish, with nobody left to man the lifeboats in the dash for the safety of shore.

Hopefully, I am wrong and somebody on the bridge at Canary Wharf will be able to turn hard a'port before the rocks are hit?

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Comments (5)

When I transacted business, it was on the basis that I would receive a lower commission up front and a very modest commission as future premiums were paid, to compensate me overall for the work done on my clientele as a whole.

It was accepted that the majority of clients would not need service at any one time, but those who did need it received it and at no further cost to them.

I could easily have taken the view that I wanted all the commission up front and no renewal (trail) commission. I took the view that I was in it for the long haul and that the business model I adopted was fairer to my clients and to my business. A further view I took was that those who insisted on "all up front" were not in it for the long haul and thus "fly by nights."

I am presuming that the investment houses will not be giving an extra allocation to investors if trail is stopped. Can anyone explain this "good outcome" for the investor? Can anyone explain how it is TCF?

Trail commission is contractual on contracts already in force. It was disclosed to potential investors before they invested and one can only presume that they were content with it.

What right has the FCA to interfere in an old business arrangement with which all parties were happy? Will the FCA next be saying that we can't charge clients for future service on these old arrangements, as our clients are already on an old contract?

Richard Brown   09/10/2013   10:02
The sad fact regarding trail commission is that many advisers followed the (then) regulator's indicated preference to opt for trail commission and a lower initial commission. It was good news since it reduced the pressure of the effect of possible reclaimed commission and it built in value for the business.

The regulator seems to have overlooked this. The consequence of removing trail (and this includes the fact that it will be removed in certain circumstances, e.g. fund switches) will be bad for business and is likely to remove access to financial advice for many people as a result (IFAs folding, withdrawing from the market, concentrating on higher net worth individuals, etc., etc.).

Anon   09/10/2013   10:11
Does anyone know if the FCA has publicly given any view on Friend's Life's decision to stop paying trail and not passing back to the relevant customers either?
In my view that would be a good litmus test of whether it has thought through the consequences of stopping agreed trail fees.

I doubt Friends Life can be unaware of just how badly it has devalued its own brand's trustworthiness in the eyes of advisers. Shareholders should demand the senior management take responsibility for any the loss in value of its brand as a result of that decision.

Michael Both

Michael Both   09/10/2013   11:37
Can someone please enlighten me about the reason for switching off trail if a change occurs with investments, which seems to be applied differently according to product provider. I have seen no explanation from the FCA why this has been introduced ?

The general interference with trail by the current Regulator can only be described as restraint of trade, vindictive and it should no their business to interfere with our business arrangements with clients. Previously consumer champions wished to prevent initial commissions - now to get rid of what income we have left !!

Frank Dennis   09/10/2013   13:26
I think there is an argument for the regulator to ask companies that stop trail commission payments to justify why they have done so, in the interests of TCF. If the financial adviser is no longer providing an on-going service, then you could argue fair enough, however, to offer nothing to the consumer in return for holding on to a payment that was previously paid away is immoral.

charles.rickards@hansenlloyd.co.uk   13/10/2013   13:01

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