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No advisers on Code Committee. No problem: Cotton

The Commissioner for Financial Advisers Annabel Cotton is unconcerned by the depletion of practicing financial advisers from the Code Committee, believing the remaining committee members are “very capable” of developing a professional code of conduct for advisers from here.

Thursday, November 19th 2009, 7:04AM 3 Comments

by Sonia Speedy

Patrick Middleton and Liz Koh were forced to resign from the committee last week, sparking concern that it now contains few frontline advisers.

Murray Weatherston, principal of Financial Focus, says Michael Staal is the only authorised financial adviser practitioner left on the committee and there is now no representation for smaller advisory firms, or the bank/wealth management companies.

Weatherston says:  "Part of me says it probably doesn't matter at the end of the day because the officials would have sorted out what is going to happen anyway.

"But the more charitable part of me says presumably these people were picked not only for their personal skills but because they represented a different stakeholder group. Now it seems to me there are two major stakeholder groups that don't actually have a say at the table."

But Cotton maintains the remaining eight members have "great" experience and expertise in the financial adviser space.

Cotton says: "I'm not so concerned with two of the financial adviser people leaving the committee when the committee has got to this stage. It was always going to be about public input. I think the other people, the remaining eight, are very capable of working with the consultation outcome and developing a Code from that."

David Whyte, an independent consultant and industry commentator, describes the change as "the last vestiges of any pretence that it is self or co-regulation".  Regulation is not going to be a "friendly, co-operative exercise", he says.

"It never has been anywhere else and I see no reason why it should be here. These are, I think, the early signs of the regulator establishing their position and showing their teeth," he says.

Institute of Financial Advisers (IFA) president Lyn McMorran says she was disappointed about the resignations of Middleton and Koh whom she has "the greatest of respect for". However, the IFA had met with members of the Code Committee and felt comfortable it was still keen to engage advisers in discussion on the Code.

« Code Committee outlines ethics requiredSovereign takes regulation bull by the horns »

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Comments from our readers

On 19 November 2009 at 10:06 am Craig Myles said:
I read this story with an immense sense of frustration and despair. We appear as an industry/profession to be increasingly sidelined through the twists and turns of the various Government officials involved in this process. I agree with David Whytes comments, the last vestages of any co-regulatory model are being stripped away. But that is no excuse for a lack of representation from those with experience and practical knowledge of the financial advisory sector within the Code Committee.

Murray Weatherston while being very charitable towards the Code Committee makes some valuable points, there is a need to represent the views of those from different sectors of the financial advisory community. One person operators, SME's and large corporates.

The difference between financial advisers and the real estate agents is the later got very engaged and lead from the front on issues when they were faced with their regulatory model.

The industry/profession should be very concerned by the comments of the Commissioner. I can't think of another professional body that would have allowed itself to be so maligned, misrepresented or discredited so unfairly and not put up it's own strong case in defence.

The IFA needs to lead on these issues and be bold if it wants to win the hearts and minds of the industry/profession. They need to represent their members.
On 19 November 2009 at 5:08 pm Roger said:
I'm afraid the IFA has zero influence on this issue.

What are they going to do, withdraw their services?
On 20 November 2009 at 11:49 am Garh Clarricoats said:
I endorse Roge'r comment in that the IFA has zero influence on the issue. Now the reality is really starting to bite isn't it folks?

The reality that NO-ONE has much influnce on the issue anymore - the issue in this case being the Code Commitee AND the Regulations and Codes themselves.

The statements from the nominal Comissioner for Financial Advisers only last week that she "accepted with regret" (sic) the resignation of two of the three professional advisers from the Committee, rapidly followed by her "unconcern" about the absence of appropriate representation simply re-inforces the point that the agenda is set and the deed is done. The consultation process is just a nice way of desensitising the industry to the inevitability of the outcome.

Those of you who know me as a generally positive person who is passionate aboute the profession he works in and the people he serves. There is however little to be positive about in this debate.

I am still positive about the benefits this profession offers to its consumers. I still feel good when a client thanks me for a well managed investment (even though it has had its ups and downs) and the feeling I get when I give a widow a cheque to pay off her mortgage, setlle the bills and pay for the kids education is still incomparable with anything I know.

Let the Committees, consultation groups, talking heads and regulators do their best (or worst). Have your say by way of blog, comment and submission - then let it go and keep doing what you do best. Taking care of your clients and taking care of business.

And have a great day!!!
Commenting is closed

 

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