Harriett Baldwin MP has become the poster child of the IFA community since forcing the first debate on the RDR in Westminister. In an exclusive interview with IFAonline, she gives her views on the FSA, qualifications and that McDonald's comment...
Why call the RDR debate now?
The new influx of Conservative ministers bring in new backgrounds from which to take up the cudgels for our constituents. I was only elected in May but I have been pushing this issue for years and was quite astonished there had never been a debate on the RDR before. I wrote to Andrew Tyrie MP about it when he first became chair of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) to ask him to raise the issue.
I have been overwhelmed by the response form the public after this week's debate.
Mark Hoban MP (Finance Secretary to the Treasury) has been heavily criticised for comparing IFAs' qualifications to those of McDonald's workers. Was he right to say it?
I believe he was quoting a consumer organisation.
(Ed: She would not be drawn any further on Hoban).
Can you stop the RDR?
We have no ability to change the regulation. The independent statutory regulator is in charge of this. But with the many changes happening in financial regulation the FSA would do well to listen.
It is not a decision for MPs but Mark Garnier [who sits on the TSC] and I will make a proposal for a back bench debate on the issue as the Chancellor will be introducing legislation on financial regulation very soon.
Where do you stand on the new minimum Level 4 exam standard?
Saying to someone who is very up to speed and has done a lot of CPD but no exam that they can't practice is the wrong judgement.
All the people who have written to me have supported ongoing study. The issue is the reliance on one measure with the exam.
The idea that there is an exam out there that will automatically make you competent is a very strange concept.
Consumers can find industry qualifications confusing. What can be done?
To help consumers, perhaps advisers could have on their business cards "qualified to an approved level by the FSA".
If you are going to spend £1.7bn to address the issue of professionalism more of it should be spent on consumer financial education.
Who will be hit hardest by the rule change?
It will have a really big impact on rural communities if their local IFA is forced out of the industry.
What should IFAs do to get their voice heard?
What the industry is doing in writing to MPs is the best route. If they have written already they should write again.
Write to the Clerk of the Treasury Select Committee. Campaigning does work as we have seen with Equitable Life. IFAs need to keep up the pressure.
Should AIFA have done more to lobby for IFAs in Whitehall?
MPs get a lot of lobby groups after us all the time. I always pay more attention to individual constituents.
What can further debate on the RDR really achieve?
The FSA is changing. Regulation is changing. Consumer regulation is going to be under the watch of the new Consumer Protection and Markets Authority (CPMA).
The discussion may be too late. CPMA will soon take-over and will have broadly the same remit as the FSA. But discussions are continuing and we hope it is beginning to register in Canary Wharf that MPs are taking note of this.
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