This time next week, failing some kind of catastrophe, I shall be bobbing around the Briny in what my friend calls a 'polystyrene gin palace'. Or, to be more accurate, a Bavaria 37 named 'Christopher Robin'. I am not sure how we will cope being cooped up together in a confined space, but the Med seems a pretty big place, and there are plenty of islands to explore around Greece.
There's something intoxicating about the prospect.
We're not part of some bigger package tour, where we have to stooge around the sights with all the other tourists. There isn't any set agenda we have to stick to. We won't be subject to any bullying from hospitality staff if we want to be antisocial. If we feel like touring Cephalonia, no-one's going to stop us. If we want to visit Levkas, then we will. We have a boat, a set of sails and the determination to sample as many tavernas on as many islands as we can.
It struck me that this is a kind of seasonal parable on the equation between 'independent' and 'restricted' advice models. I know we bang on a lot about it, but it seems that misconceptions continue to abound. Other Networks which incorporate both independent and restricted advisory models clearly can make that choice if they want to - but what they then can't then do is hold themselves out as independent. And neither can their Member Firms. And they can't dress up their 'restricted' propositions by using terms such as "unbiased, whole of market" in the hope that they can sucker someone into thinking that they are 'independent'. This week, we've been looking at one big player which appears to think it can fudge the FCA's definitions, and have its cake and eat it.
It can't, and it's dishonest to pretend otherwise. We think that accountancy practices, who should be referring their clients to genuinely independent financial advisers, may end up learning the lesson the hard way.
I shall miss our ValidPathers whilst I am swashbuckling my way around the Med, but I shall enjoy the freedom. The freedom to come and go as I wish, to choose when to start out and when to stop. The freedom to select my destination, instead of finding my horizons compressed and restricted by someone else's itinerary. In short, the freedom to follow the best of the paths available to me each day.
And that is a great metaphor for the professional model of the IFA.