Atria-podcast
Atria-Content-Blog
A day in Pictures 
Office closure on Friday 18th September More ...
Just. Walk. Away 
Reflections based upon some recent contentious cases More ...
Self-Subverting Regulation
Observations prompted by the latest FCA reporting debacle More ...
Working on your business 
IFAs are subject to same principles as everyone else More ...
Fatbergs! 
IFA recycling More ...
The Stuff of Nightmares 
Short-Termism...again 
How to lose your majority 
The Assessing Suitability Review 
Financial Crime + AML 
A strange interaction 
How 'thick' is your proposition? 
Quick-Start Your Proposition 
A reason to celebrate 
It's OK to be a capitalist 
The Case for Cashflow 
There's always a crash 
Somewhere, close to the brink 
The Persistent Elephant 
Mind the gap 
Merry Christmas 
The ease of negligence 
Brexit: we need entertaining! 
Red sky in the morning... 
Sustainable, or...? 
Advertising and Attention-Span 
Complexity + client understanding 
A world where nothing...quite...works 
Dreaming the dream 
Eve and the Apple
For goodness sake 
Too good to be true? 
Wake up to a new world 
Data in, data out 
Don't be like Yodel 
A little nostalgia is a good thing 
Welcome to my world 
Sorry to brag, but... 
Complaint-Management Models 
Intimations of mortality 
The wonderful world of regulatory permissions 
From alert to supervisory action 
Due-diligence, suitability and all that 
Regulation, the one-way street
The old ways persist
There is sweet irony here... 
'Wot's compliance ever done for us?' 
A man who made his mark 
Messy world planning 
Teabags and Data-Disconnect 
2016: Onwards and Upwards 
On 'Doing Network' 
Tis the season to be whinging 
Futile Forecasting Frustration 
On being deliberate 
Data Matters 
Over a lifetime 
Your money is safe 
What's going on at the FCA? 
The BT Engineer cometh 
Robot IFA, here we come? 
Rethinking the basics 
Independent...or what?
What you write matters 
Be careful out there! 
Crimes against information 
Realism not Cynicism 
A Question of Trust 
Choices, promises and client experience 
Where's Value? 
Just Say No 
Too bright to look at? 
Compliance + Subjectivity 
Fostering the critical mind 
The sidelining of the client 
There be Bear-Traps 
Threats to Sustainability 
2015, Looking Forwards
Merry Christmas! 
Regulation's working... 
Innovation and Self-Service 
The Challenge of Due Diligence 
The joy of Notes 
Re-Evaluating Rebalancing 
It's all joined-up 
Lights, cameras, action, EIS... 
Row over EU 'interim levy' 
Fences make uncomfortable seating
Adviser Mood Swings Need an Explanation
Choppy waters? 
 What's your number?
Freedom 
Independence...again
Is it a maze? 
The risk of risk 
Picking the winners 
All you need is love ...
CoCos...Pop! 
It's a State of Mind
Face to face with the FCA 
Surprised by excellence 
Afloat in the Sea of Ambiguity?
Independence +
Does A Fund's ACD really matter? 
The Future's Bright, the Future's Orange? 
2 + 2 = 4 (or does it?) 
What's smart about smart beta?
Even Marcus needs wellies 
PIMS and the place for products 
Ethical Professionals 
Trusted Adviser...or what? 
Never out of fashion 
Customer Service! 
Tulipomania! 
Adviser Charges - the FCA Thematic Review 
On Not Advising on Mortgages
Ennui about Annuities? 
Where there's a Will... 
Your Proposition 
Justifying our existence 
Getting there safely 
A Network perspective
How to look forwards
The point of promises
Auto-Enrolment Implications
Happy New Year
It's almost Christmas
Merry Christmas to All!
Behold...the new marketplace
What's your commute like?
The illusion of choice
The lust of the eyes
A legacy food nostalgia trip
A good read
A bit of fiscal responsibility
Risky business
Service, service + More Service
A salutary Tale
Sorry doesn't have to be the hardest word
RDR Charging - Media Reporting
Anticipating randomness
When Outreach is Underwhelming
Matching expectations
Uncertainty, planning, hedging
Who is being served?
Reasons to be grumpy
Adequate analysis
Client Reviews
Hey ho!

Mind the gap 

MTGIn my last blog, I spoke about the dangers of a lack of 'joined-upness', especially within the context of the FCA's approach to regulation.  In an ideal world, one would ring the changes in terms of the content of these short articles, but I have been provided with an almost perfect example of the kind of danger that I highlighted in that last piece.

On Wednesday (04/01/17), I received an email from the FCA, alerting me to a potential breach committed by one of our Members, which led to that person being suspended from the panel for one of the more minor building societies.  The email is full of the usual commands ("You must do this/that") and reminds us of our responsibilities under SUP 12.8.  All well and good.

However...

We had already conducted a full investigation into this matter in September 2016, following receipt of a notification from that Lender.  We had reviewed the client files and found no basis for the action taken by the Lender.  We had written to the Lender, requesting further enlightenment, and it had refused to cooperate with us.  We had, accordingly, written to the head of the FCA's 'Mortgages & Mutuals' department, requesting some help to allow ValidPath (as the supervising Network) to do its job properly.  The response we received was somewhat staggering:  the FCA did not see it as its role to intervene in such cases.  Which, when you think about it, almost totally subverts the entire process of regulatory supervision.

And here's the thing:  we were aware of the issue in September 2016, some four months before the FCA sent out its formal demand for action, and we had already dealt with the matter as far as it was possible to deal with it.  The only factor which had prevented us taking the matter any further was the FCA's own unpreparedness to insist that the Lender collaborate with the supervisory process.  This almost perfectly exemplifies the concept of 'Catch 22', and is suggestive of a gap in the fabric of regulation where the chief potential victim is the Adviser.

To be absolutely clear:  there was no evidence on the Member's client file of any compliance or advisory shortcoming.  Furthermore, we were supplied with a thorough and entirely consistent narrative for the case which demonstrated why there had been anomalies in the client's circumstances - anomalies which had been explained to the Lender in question at the time.  And yet, despite this, we have the unilateral suspension from the Lender's mortgage panel, the rigours of the resulting investigation, and now the additional, subsequent communications which must be responded to.  This seems to be the way of things - a profoundly dysfunctional framework, where the key threads do not join up, and where there appears to be little appetite for making them join up.  So, what to do about it?

We suggest the following:

  • Good 'fact-finding' skills are an essential component.  Not just the record of empirical financial data, but the more narrative account of the 'story' behind the case.  Customers' circumstances are often complex, conflicted, ambigous - rather than the nice, neat financial picture so beloved of Lenders' underwriting teams.  Historically, Advisers took a pride in knowing the back-story, but kept that knowledge in their heads - it has to be noted, dated and retained on file;
  • During an advice process (and perhaps most especially in relation to a problematic mortgage application) things change - perhaps as new information becomes available, a disappointing valuation or credit-score - so document your awareness of, and response to, those changes in writing.  When the supervisor comes to view the file, it should tell its own story, without any gaps;
  • The experience of this Member with this Lender indicates that the personnel at the Lender are simply not to be trusted.  It is disappointing to have to note this and take it on board - but once you acknowledge the possibility that the person you are negotiating with may not necessarily be reliable or trustworthy, then the onus really is on you to keep a careful record of those interactions, on the client file.  This is not an example of ValidPath (or anyone else) 'gold-plating' compliance - it's simply commonsense, if you value your own status and position.  At the end of the day, your own professional integrity is the most valuable quality you possess.
ValidPath Members are some of the very best IFAs in the UK.  We have no doubts about the professionalism and integrity of our people - but there will be times when unfortunate, unfair events occur, such as this one with this Lender, and what we need in such circumstances is a careful, well-documented client file.  ValidPathers have all the tools they need for this within Clarity and its advice frameworks.

Kevin Moss, 06/01/2017

A day in Pictures 
Office closure on Friday 18th September More ...
Just. Walk. Away 
Reflections based upon some recent contentious cases More ...
Self-Subverting Regulation
Observations prompted by the latest FCA reporting debacle More ...
Working on your business 
IFAs are subject to same principles as everyone else More ...
Fatbergs! 
IFA recycling More ...
The Stuff of Nightmares 
Reflections on the lesson from CP17/16 More ...
Short-Termism...again 
Follow-up to last week's blog More ...
How to lose your majority 
Election lessons for IFAs More ...
The Assessing Suitability Review 
There are lessons here More ...
Financial Crime + AML 
Flagging up the new guidance More ...
A strange interaction 
Surely, these are two entirely disparate and unrelated topics? More ...
How 'thick' is your proposition? 
Easter closure More ...
Quick-Start Your Proposition 
Speed is of the essence More ...
A reason to celebrate 
The first fifteen years More ...
It's OK to be a capitalist 
Like it or not, we are this thing More ...
The Case for Cashflow 
A quick reminder about CashCalc More ...
There's always a crash 
For this, you have insurance More ...
Somewhere, close to the brink 
We've been using OM's systems, and it's not been a happy experience More ...
The Persistent Elephant 
On the PII market More ...
Merry Christmas 
Christmas message, 2016 More ...
The ease of negligence 
Lifetime cashflows, variable growth rates and market events More ...
Brexit: we need entertaining! 
Reflections on Article 50 More ...
Red sky in the morning... 
The FCA publishes interim findings from its asset management market study More ...
Sustainable, or...? 
Are we building something to last, or just paying the bills? More ...
Advertising and Attention-Span 
Thoughts prompted by marketing surveys More ...
Complexity + client understanding 
More and more information? Or better-quality advice? More ...
A world where nothing...quite...works 
Feedback after our DeFaqto Engage training workshop More ...
Dreaming the dream 
The differences between being awake, and being asleep More ...
Eve and the Apple
The lessons that Apple probably didn't seriously intend More ...
For goodness sake 
Enough of the doomsday scenarios, please More ...
Too good to be true? 
News this week regarding Film Partnerships More ...
Wake up to a new world 
The IFA's role in a Brexit world More ...
Data in, data out 
Some clarity about Clarity's clarity More ...
Don't be like Yodel 
Lessons to be learned about your service proposition? More ...
A little nostalgia is a good thing 
More thoughts on longevity and the advisory process More ...
Welcome to my world 
The RMAR is the new incarnation of the hamster-wheel, but less fun More ...
Sorry to brag, but... 
A recent member visit prompts a few thoughts More ...
Complaint-Management Models 
How other people do it More ...
Intimations of mortality 
Victoria Wood and the critical value of 'What If?' planning More ...
The wonderful world of regulatory permissions 
It's P2P time! More ...
From alert to supervisory action 
The FCA's supervisory actions in relation to pension switches and transfers More ...
Due-diligence, suitability and all that 
Reflections on the FCA's Thematic Review More ...
Regulation, the one-way street
A reflection on recent experiences More ...
The old ways persist
We are surprised by the discovery that commission overrides still exist More ...
There is sweet irony here... 
The demise of Rebus More ...
'Wot's compliance ever done for us?' 
A rumination on the relationship between compliance and professionalism More ...
A man who made his mark 
We are grateful for the memory of Richard Mein More ...
Messy world planning 
Advice when the numbers don't necessarily add up More ...
Teabags and Data-Disconnect 
Lessons learned from the humble teabag More ...
2016: Onwards and Upwards 
The perfect antidotes to anxiety More ...
On 'Doing Network' 
A reflection on ethos and future development More ...
Tis the season to be whinging 
Further reflections on the complaint culture More ...
Futile Forecasting Frustration 
Reflections on the folly of market-timing More ...
On being deliberate 
The benefits of lifetime cashflow planning More ...
Data Matters 
A piece inspired by the FCA's Gabriel system More ...
Over a lifetime 
Some of those old products did actually deliver More ...
Your money is safe 
Kevin is trouble-shooting at the bank More ...
What's going on at the FCA? 
Reflections on our recent experiences with approvals More ...
The BT Engineer cometh 
Observations based upon the inevitable disappointments of the Real World More ...
Robot IFA, here we come? 
What is it that you, uniquely, do for your clients? More ...
Rethinking the basics 
There's a website revamp on the way... More ...
Independent...or what?
Reflections on a telephone conversation More ...
What you write matters 
A few thoughts on the crafting of client documentation More ...
Be careful out there! 
The world IFAs operate in is a challenging one. This is a quick reminder of a useful tool. More ...
Crimes against information 
The myth of objectivity, and what we can do about it More ...
Realism not Cynicism 
A more positive view of regulation? More ...
A Question of Trust 
Thoughts about recruitment and the qualities of human beings More ...
Choices, promises and client experience 
Learning some lessons from party manifestos More ...
Where's Value? 
For when the beach is crowded More ...
Just Say No 
Reflecting on the recent PFS guidance More ...
Too bright to look at? 
The eclipse of DB schemes and the flourishing of risk More ...
Compliance + Subjectivity 
Compliance and financial promotions More ...
Fostering the critical mind 
Inquisitive methodologies and the pensions reforms More ...
The sidelining of the client 
Legacy products, and the insidious decay of our clients' financial capability More ...
There be Bear-Traps 
Some reflections on the pension reforms More ...
Threats to Sustainability 
Reflections on the dynamics of the PII marketplace More ...
2015, Looking Forwards
A positive framework for progress More ...
Merry Christmas! 
The last Blog of 2014 More ...
Regulation's working... 
Recent experiences don't exactly instil confidence... More ...
Innovation and Self-Service 
On anticipating the implications of technical innovation More ...
The Challenge of Due Diligence 
Reflections after ValidPath's CPD Event on BPR solutions More ...
The joy of Notes 
How and why we use information, and how we go about recording it are very important issues. More ...
Re-Evaluating Rebalancing 
Rebalancing methodologies matter More ...
It's all joined-up 
A few thoughts about the use of data-systems More ...
Lights, cameras, action, EIS... 
A great new film, and some thoughts on tax-efficiency More ...
Row over EU 'interim levy' 
Would David Cameron be happy with FSCS Interim Levies? More ...
Fences make uncomfortable seating
It's clearer than ever : you need to decide whether you will engage with AutoEnrolment. Or not. More ...
Adviser Mood Swings Need an Explanation
With a new investigation into due diligence, advisers would do well to have a clear explanation for differences in their attitude to investment solutions More ...
Choppy waters? 
Here it comes... More ...
 What's your number?
The importance and relevance of Management Information cannot be over-stated ... More ...
Freedom 
Yet more thoughts about independence More ...
Independence...again
Further thoughts on the independence conundrum More ...
Is it a maze? 
A few thoughts about ethics More ...
The risk of risk 
How many sources of risk does the IFA need to factor into his/her consideration? More ...
Picking the winners 
A comparison of 2013 and 2014 fund due-diligences is revealing More ...
All you need is love ...
Gill contemplates whether her chocolate habit has lessons for financial planning ... More ...
CoCos...Pop! 
A pre-emptive product-ban from the FCA. More ...
It's a State of Mind
Simple is not the same as easy, as Gill if going to find out next Friday. More ...
Face to face with the FCA 
Follow-on thoughts after our recent review More ...
Surprised by excellence 
A review meeting surpasses all expectations More ...
Afloat in the Sea of Ambiguity?
A new FCA Consultation is on its way! More ...
Independence +
Introducing our new Network-wide DeFaqto provision More ...
Does A Fund's ACD really matter? 
Should advisers avoid fund managers who are still using Capita as their Authorised Corporate Directors? More ...
The Future's Bright, the Future's Orange? 
Are financial planners designing propositions to suit a changing world, and client profile, or are we assuming (wrongly) that the future will be a clone of the past? More ...
2 + 2 = 4 (or does it?) 
Not everything in life is black and white, so advisers should address complexity in their advice too ... More ...
What's smart about smart beta?
Vanguard's Symposium gets Gill thinking More ...
Even Marcus needs wellies 
Advance planning saves the day, every time More ...
PIMS and the place for products 
It's hard work, but someone has to do it! More ...
Ethical Professionals 
On being different, but also proving it More ...
Trusted Adviser...or what? 
The key factor in moulding client relationships More ...
Never out of fashion 
Announcing Parmenion's new SIPP wrapper More ...
Customer Service! 
A reminder of the value to everyone of delivering a great service More ...
Tulipomania! 
How relevant are historic events to current market practices? More ...
Adviser Charges - the FCA Thematic Review 
The FCA's Thematic Review highlights a problem that really shouldn't need fixing More ...
On Not Advising on Mortgages
Thinking about the bigger picture More ...
Ennui about Annuities? 
Gill Cardy, writing from France... More ...
Where there's a Will... 
Highlighting the importance of Will-Planning, and flagging up a new service More ...
Your Proposition 
On why defining your proposition is so important More ...
Justifying our existence 
Reflections on the latest engagement with CMCs More ...
Getting there safely 
Another consideration of risk-management More ...
A Network perspective
Reflections on the network model, from both sides More ...
How to look forwards
One needs a clear view of the way ahead... More ...
The point of promises
Reflections on the boiler-system from hell More ...
Auto-Enrolment Implications
A few practical thoughts for IFAs More ...
Happy New Year
The virtue of setting realistic goals More ...
It's almost Christmas
Closing thoughts and thanks for 2013 More ...
Merry Christmas to All!
The penultimate blog of 2013, highlighting Gill Cardy's arrival More ...
Behold...the new marketplace
So where did all the independent firms go? More ...
What's your commute like?
Risks in the advice process More ...
The illusion of choice
Independence or what? More ...
The lust of the eyes
Why we only want the wrong stuff... More ...
A legacy food nostalgia trip
Bear with me here...there is a connection. More ...
A good read
A review of John Bogle's book, 'The Clash of the Cultures' More ...
A bit of fiscal responsibility
How to encourage decent retirement provision More ...
Risky business
Lessons learned from the documentation More ...
Service, service + More Service
Lessons from an Italian restaurant More ...
A salutary Tale
Before you arrange an annuity More ...
Sorry doesn't have to be the hardest word
One way of resolving our mistakes, and avoiding complaints More ...
RDR Charging - Media Reporting
Reflections on a Daily Telegraph feature More ...
Anticipating randomness
Observations from real life are relevant to financial planning More ...
When Outreach is Underwhelming
Reflections following a FOS Roadshow More ...
Matching expectations
Aside from the marketing, what's really substantive about our advisory proposition? More ...
Uncertainty, planning, hedging
How, exactly, do we enable our clients? More ...
Who is being served?
Recent experiences with customer service present some useful lessons More ...
Reasons to be grumpy
So there are good reasons, after all... More ...
Adequate analysis
A cost-effective investment analytics solution for IFAs More ...
Client Reviews
A quick highlight on this value-added area of your client service proposition More ...
Hey ho!
It's all across the news, so prepare yourself for the onslaught! More ...