The regulator's vastly improved thematic communication and knowledge sharing means advisers should view it as a valuable resource, according to RSM Tenon's head of wealth management John Porteous.
Here he explains that this appreciation, combined with a two way dialogue between the regulator and advisers, would benefit both parties and consumers alike:
"As we move into 2013 and embrace the changes that the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) has brought in, we can also look forward to a new regulator in the form of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
"In my view, this evolution of regulation will have a more lasting and profound impact on our business practices than that of the RDR.
"It is clear that we have been moving to a more interventionist and intrusive style of regulation for some time. Having digested the Financial Services Authority (FSA) document ‘Journey to the FCA', I would expect this direction of travel to result in quicker, more incisive action to prevent poor consumer outcomes rather than enforcing the ‘past business review' culture of old.
"In reality, it is difficult to predict exactly what life under the FCA will be like. There is likely to be a settling-in period and there is a risk that its more ‘dynamic' approach will hurt more than help some parts of the industry until an effective balance is struck between industry engagement and a collective understanding of what this new approach to regulation will look like.
"Despite any uncertainty on the horizon, there is one aspect of the current regulatory regime that I hope to see further progressed by the FCA - the vastly improved thematic communication and knowledge-sharing.
"For example, there is little that happened in 2012 that was not earmarked in that year's Retail Conduct Risk Outlook (RCRO). In working effectively within a tighter supervisory framework, it is important that advisory firms consult effectively in arguing their case but also identify and manage the emerging risks that are receiving greater visibility across the various regulatory departments (especially supervision and policy).
"Personally, I found RCRO to be one of the most credible and helpful research documents released in the last 12 months. I suspect that much of the insight contained within these documents is lost on the wider audience as it is not marketed effectively as knowledge sharing.
"In fact, one of the biggest communication challenges facing the FCA is getting people to digest the full contents and context of relevant publications for their own business (very difficult when there are so many), rather than simply reacting to media interpretation.
"In a world of expensive ‘consultants' and ‘subject matter experts', the FCA should recognise that it is arguably the best source of primary research and data collection across the industry. It is a valuable resource for advisers.
"While leveraging of this information has improved considerably in recent years - especially when presented clearly - as with the ‘good and poor practice' reports - there is still more that can be done to distribute this information.
"The FSA was consultative on key topics (such as RDR itself) but the output was often blurred by lack of positive momentum and the conflicting interests of industry participants.
"The FSA's move to the FCA presents a real opportunity for a better relationship with the regulator if we can use its knowledge and in turn provide feedback to ensure that RDR delivers its objectives in a way that creates a more sustainable and trusting industry for all participants."
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