It has been a challenging year for many financial advisers, but did the floor cave in as a result of RDR? No. Here, professional advisers share their lessons learned from 2013 and their reasons for optimism ahead of 2014...
With qualifications certificates adorning walls, adviser numbers settling and a regulator that appears to be more willing to listen to the advisory community, there are reasons to be cheerful for 2014.
We asked a handful of advisers how the past 12 months have been for them and what their hopes and plans are for next year.
We've also thrown in an end-of-year message from the FCA. Happy reading.
Reasons to be cheerful: Advisers share their hopes for 2014
Graeme Inglis, founder, Create and Prosper
How was 2013 for you? It's been a good business year for us within a challenging environment - we managed to almost double turnover. I'm happy that RDR has levelled the playing field regarding how firms are remunerated and has allowed clients to put the value of our service in context with costs.
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? There are many reasons. For firms that have embraced RDR within their proposition and the way they relate to clients, there is access to a greater market. In recent months, we have also seen an increase in new clients who were left out in the cold when their bank stopped offering financial advice.
One thing you've learned this year? To engage with clients every step of the way and to educate them on the value what we bring. This has never been more important given the emphasis on costs associated with financial services.
Graham Bowser, adviser, QS Financial Planning Solutions
How was 2013 for you? Very good; a bit of extra paperwork to bring existing client agreements fully in line with RDR, but a good year for business.
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? What, and ruin my reputation as a grumpy old man? I am from Birmingham. Cheerful is unknown in the language. However it is hard not to notice that our clients are happy and that demand for our services is increasing all the time. Oh and profits are rising, so there must be something to break into a smile about.
One thing you've learned? Just how difficult it is to find truly competent, knowledgeable and client-centric advisers to share the load of ever-increasing business levels. I perceive this as a growing problem over time for the industry.
Philip Perry, co-director, ARK Financial Planning
How was 2013 for you? It's been a productive year. I would like to put this down to my being more proactive in my business, though it could also have been a knock-on effect from the implementation of RDR, or fewer advisers, who knows?
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? More of the same please for 2014. If I can maintain a balance between servicing my existing clients and identifying new opportunities, then I will be extremely happy. I'm looking forward to my holidays.
One thing you've learned? That you can't be complacent. Move with the flow and improve constantly. Learn from your mistakes.
Kusal Ariyawansa, adviser, Appleton Gerrard
How was 2013 for you? It's been a good year. A highlight was that several years of hard work in networking circles paid off: a new firm of accountants has introduced three ideal retainer clients.
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? The good news for us is that customers are finding us even though we don't advertise or use SEO. There have been a significant number of online enquiries from April onwards, with nearly all being offered initial meetings at our cost. Whilst this has not resulted in the conversions we expected, I understand that the fee-based concept is new to most and trust they need to take time.
One thing you've learned? That there doesn't appear to be a significant advice gap. People can go online and get general guidance, or go and see an adviser for next to nothing. The question of whether they are prepared to pay for that advice implies there is more of an affordability gap.
Michael Roberts, director, Protect & Invest
How was 2013 for you? For me, 2013 began with intensive preparation for AF3, J04 and J05, the final qualifications required to achieve the Chartered title and PFS Fellowship. I was thrilled to receive two passes, plus a distinction in AF3. A month later my firm was awarded Corporate Chartered status.
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? Having recently seen our adviser numbers double from two to four, I am looking forward to working with them in 2014 to further develop the business, and using our Corporate Chartered status to forge new professional relationships.
One thing you've learned? I have learned that Corporate Chartered status is vital in helping to develop successful relationships with other professional firms.
Chris Daems, principal, Financial Solutions
How was 2013 for you? We had a great year. There's always room for improvement, but we made great strides within our private client business. However, the true area of growth was in our corporate arm: employers have to comply with their duties, including automatic enrolment.
Reasons to be cheerful for 2014? I'm excited, and not only because of the explosion in the corporate market but also because some of the projects we are working on will be ready for launch.
One thing you've learned? It's tough to put my finger on one thing. Reading Daniel Khaneman's Thinking fast and slow was a game changer in terms of how people make so many decisions using emotional instincts and not logic. I now endeavour to ensure I am more logical.
And an end-of-year message from the FCA...
"We recognise we have much to prove to the industry, but we are listening to you and hopefully you will see that we are different. We have heard your concerns about reporting, and we are working hard to make it as simple as possible. On unauthorised businesses and individuals, we are taking action to protect consumers and support those legitimate advisers who protect their customers.
"The market is settling following the introduction of the RDR. Since January, adviser numbers are up and we haven't witnessed the huge fall that many predicted. We're pleased that recently-published statistics show advisers have, on average, seen revenue growth in 2013.
"We will continue to look at what effect the RDR has had. Early next year we'll update on the overall number of advisers and publish the second stage of our review into disclosure and charging. We have also committed to a full post-implementation review, which will look at all the consequences, intended and otherwise, of RDR."
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