For as long as I can remember - which is longer than some might think - our industry has been heavily regulated.
I’m sure we can all agree on that one, right?
One thing has been common throughout my time in financial services: Whoever the regulator has been, whether the FSA, LAUTRO or SIB, there has ALWAYS been a major regulatory change taking place.
Retail Distribution Review...Treating Customers Fairly...depolarisation...ICOB and COB...polarisation...
You can go right the way back to when I started at Royal Life in 1988 and the introduction of personal pensions and SERPs if you want.
Usually the major regulatory change is a two or three year project, one that has no long range targets behind it, one that has usually been dreamed up by politicians.
How much have we spent as an industry on these regulatory projects in the last 20 years? The figure must be frightening.
Not all of these major regulatory changes have failed. I liked TCF. Still do. I thought it was a good attempt at getting us to think about things from the client's perspective and get our house in order where it wasn't.
Now we have the RDR and another major regulatory project which will - yes, you got there before me - swallow up huge resource and money from our industry.
Fast forward to 2020 and the RDR might be looked upon as a brilliant idea, or as yet another short term project without a major long term benefit for the consumer. It's too early to judge but I really hope it's the former.
A few weeks ago the Tories announced they may well change things on the regulatory front and do away with the FSA in favour of a different model if they win the next General Election.
That could be even more regulatory change to contend with then! Just imagine all the changes a new financial services regulator could introduce.
At times like this, when you care about our industry, it's easy to get drawn into the details of these things and forget the bigger picture. We have always experienced short term major regulatory changes whilst our regulator reports to politicians.
Politicians are short term people with short term priorities and short term views. They have to be in order to remain in their seat/role/cabinet post/office...
This is why the UK pensions problem remains; why the issue of long term care is unresolved.
Show me a long term thinker in Parliament (Frank Fields anyone?) and I'll show you someone on the periphery of Government policy. Sadly.
So...a thought to leave you with: Imagine a world in which financial services is regulated by a body that does not report to politicians.
In this world, a regulator could create long term lasting change that benefits consumers, make changes that don't need to be thrown out of the window every few years for the next set.
The Monetary Policy Committee sets interest rates, not politicians. If it works there, why can't it work elsewhere? Answers on a postcard...
Andy Milburn is head of marketing at Munich Re (UK Life)
Two global vehicles
'Further plug advice gap'
Must appoint separate CEOs and boards
Advisers do come out well
Will report to Mark Till