Retaining independent status post-RDR will not be as onerous for large firms or networks as some in the industry believe, but will be an 'insurmountable challenge' for sole traders, acccording to the managing director of the Sense network.
Tim Newman said the release of several recent papers, including the FSA's guide - 'RDR: Is your firm on track?' - had convinced him that Sense, other networks and large IFA firms will be able to retain their independent status if they offer panels of experts, third-party research and shared advice.
Sole traders, on the other hand, do not have the infrastructure to remain independent, he argued.
Newman suggested individual advisers within Sense would not need to be competent on all retail investment products.
"If my colleague assists with the pension element of my client's recommendation and I assist him with investment - and the client as a whole gets independent advice which is fair, comprehensive and unbiased - then we meet the independence criteria.
"As long as there is a team approach to offering advice we will remain independent," he said.
However, sole advisers or smaller directly authorised firms looking to retain independent status face an 'insurmountable challenge', according to Newman.
"There's no team to share the competency burden with, and they'll need to find the time and inclination to operate a credible investment committee structure - I just can't see it happening." he added.
He also said Sense would "champion" independence and "definitely not" take the multi-tied route, although he expected other networks might do so because it would deliver higher remuneration.
"These networks might find themselves in trouble with their advisers who have worked independently in the past," he added.
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