Libertatem was launched in 2015 with a strong desire to improve the regulatory system and to make it more accountable.
Two years on, Libertatem now represents one in 10 adviser firms and is the only trade association left solely representing the IFA sector.
Our influence in Westminster & Whitehall continues to grow. The last few months have seen us appointed secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group looking into the Connaught Fund. Meanwhile, the FSCS levy review has taken many of our points on board while looking at the best way to fund itself; and the Treasury Select Committee has utilized our expertise and research while scrutinizing the actions of the FCA.
But the minefield continues to grow. SIPPS, Harlequin and DB Transfers loom large over the sector. The FOS continues to seek compensation for the consumer, regardless of circumstances, the law and common sense. Meanwhile, regulatory costs are increasing at 30% compound, and FOS fines continue to be levied without right to appeal.
What has Libertatem ever done for you?
Our biggest win to date is undoubtedly the inquiry into the Connaught Fund. Our Heath Report 2 was the first independent document to fully document the effect of RDR on both the industry and the consumer. It resulted in a Treasury Select Committee deeming the FCA to be ‘in special terms’ and saw Andrew Bailey taking over as CEO at the regulator.
The FSCS levy has been a hot topic for more than a year and has taken up a lot of valuable time for many IFAs. We completed the document on behalf of our members and took the results directly to the FCA who invited us to present them to the team responsible for developing strategy. Many of the more unpopular proposals have now been ditched in favour of more workable – and less expensive – solutions.
Behind the scenes, we have put a number of our members in touch with experts specialising in FOS claims and have advised on strategies involving Connaught, Harlequin and SIPPs. We are bringing political pressure to bear on both the regulator and the ombudsman, who regularly acts outside the law in finding against advisers.
We are also scrutinising the cost of regulation, which has increased five-fold in the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. This has resulted in a reduction in investment and a question mark over the viable future of the sector.
Libertatem is the way forward
As our membership continues to grow our influence increases. We are now regular visitors to both Whitehall and Canary Wharf where we can express the concerns of our members and seek to resolve conflict.
But regulatory issues continue to bombard the industry. Costs continue to rise. MIFID II and GDPR increase financial pressures on firm with no visible benefit to consumers.
Advice v Guidance still requires clarification from the regulator. The ability of the mass consumer market to access quality advice is still top of the Government’s agenda with no affordable way of delivering it. Meanwhile, the erratic and irresponsible actions of the FOS continue to frustrate the sector and threaten its future, with PI insurers becoming increasingly wary of providing cover and some threatening to pull out altogether.
We would like to see a specialist regulator being formed, away from the far-reaching brief of the FCA, that understands the impartial advice sector and seeks to promote and expand it, instead of continually looking for ways to damage and restrict it.
We will fight for the future of impartial financial services in the UK. The cost to you is less than £1 per day. The cost to you should we fail will be far in excess of that.