Martin Wheatley, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has said the regulator regrets the time it took between the conception of a Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in 2006 and the roll-out of new rules more than six years later.
He admitted at an RDR update on Monday it had taken the regulator "an awful long time, many people would say too long" to put together the RDR framework that came into effect on 31 December 2012.
Wheatley (pictured) also suggested the changes were far from being completed, with platforms still awaiting final rules that have been dubbed 'RDR II' and various post-RDR implementation reviews still underway.
The RDR was first mooted by then-Financial Services Authority chairman Callum McCarthy at a speech in Gleneagles in 2006.
Wheatley said: "It would [have been] nice to get everything done in one go. The fact that aspects of the rules had to wait - platform rules are coming in a bit later on - it would have been nice to have got all components of it clear and upfront and delivered in a package.
"But in the real world it is very difficult to do that because inevitably there are either things you couldn't quite get your head around the first time, or, where the situation changes, it needs subsequent steps.
"It would have been nice to do it quicker than six years to be honest but the reality is we are where we are."
However, FCA director of long-term savings & pensions Nick Poyntz-Wright, a former chief executive of Skandia, said the industry had benefited from "having the direction of travel set at quite an early stage".
"There was quite a lot of consultation going on which did then produced these additional topics that maybe hadn't been considered at the higher level at the very beginning," he said.
But both Wheatley and Poyntz-Wright said they had not anticipated the speed at which banks pulled out of financial advice post-RDR, while Wheatley admitted the regulator should have foreseen the emergence of an 'advice gap' whereby the RDR priced some people out of advice.
But he added: "I don't think there is anything we could have done realistically that would have accelerated and fast-tracked the necessary business development and innovation that had to happen in the industry."
The numbers of bank or building society advisers saw a huge decline in the past half year, from 4,604 at the end of July 2013 down to 3,556 advisers at 10 January this year.
The FCA admitted it was still struggling to point the finger at what effect the RDR had on lower-net-worth savers.
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