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Editorial - September 2017

Daniel GuéguenDaniel Guéguen
Founder and Chairman of PACT European Affairs

A journey through the EU Institutions

Every year before the start of the summer break, I treat myself to a journey through the EU Institutions. I say ‘treat’ because it is a real pleasure for me to speak freely and in full confidence with elected politicians, senior civil servants, head lobbyists and representatives from leading NGOs. This initiatory journey provides an impressive panorama of the current state of the European Union.

European Commission: The more I meet high-level figures, the more I am struck by their understanding of the obstacles to good governance. But I am also surprised by their inability to propose even the smallest reform that could remedy this.

Most likely this is due to the hierarchical dominance of the Commission Presidency which, for various reasons everyone knows, is in the hands of its Head of Cabinet who has replaced authority with authoritarianism. The result is a kind of bottleneck, creating a real barrier between the political and administrative levels of the Commission.

Mr Juncker’s goal of combatting the ‘silo’ approach which gives Directorates-General excessive autonomy, must be considered a failure. More than ever, every legislative file has its own institutional setting; the personal factor and the margins of interpretation have never been so important.

European Parliament: The duality in the Commission is also present in the Parliament, which contributes to an impoverishment of debate via a grand coalition between the EPP and S&D working hand in hand with the Commission President, himself a product of the Parliament due to the Spitzenkandidaten system.

This peaceful in-group culture inhibits debate at the highest level of the Institution and also at the lowest, via the systematic use of trilogues favouring first-reading agreements. It is unbelievable to see that 100% of legislative proposals were adopted at first or ‘early second’ reading in 2016! This system, the epitome of anti-democracy, has the perverse consequence of multiplying the number of delegated and implementing acts, multiplying exceptions and derogations.

As a senior figure in DG SANTE told me: “There are hardly three people in Brussels capable of clearly explaining the procedure for adopting the two regulations on endocrine disruptors.” Probably there are more than three, but certainly not more than 10!

Council of Ministers: The Council also finds itself confronted with opposing forces. The first from above, in the shape of the European Council where the Heads of State and Government meet around 10 times per year (unfortunately in a high degree of opacity) and dictate the agenda to the specialised Councils. The latter are reduced to following the views of the Masters of the Union and attempting to resist Commission control over delegated and implementing acts.

♦ Intended to simplify the EU decision-making process, the Treaty of Lisbon has, after 8 years, succeeded in creating an institutional monster that simultaneously gives more power to each Institution while reducing its influence in practice. The institutional triangle has become a square, with a dominant European Council, a bureaucratic Commission and a Parliament that follows rather than leads. This is not what we expect of the EU in the midst of a worldwide geopolitical maelstrom.

This institutional storm is essentially a storm in a teacup, because nothing really gets done on a daily basis. There is a lot of wait-and-see, opportunism and resignation. For how long will this go on? Lobbyists known to be experts in their fields are now faced with the need to become legal experts and procedural analysts, tasks they are often ill-prepared for. Some NGO representatives have the ability to be pro-active; farmers and industry are too often on the defensive. In this system created by the unfortunate Lisbon Treaty, detail trumps the essential, debate is carefully avoided and soft consensus reigns supreme. None of this is what we need.

 

 

 

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Editorial - August 2017

Jirí ŠindelárJiří Šindelář
Member of FECIF board of directors

How Vox Populi in Europe is (sometimes) being portrayed

Two weeks ago, my home city of Prague hosted an important event: the Joint ESAs’ Consumer Protection Day. This is an event that forms an important part of the regulation agenda and according to its organisers should “discuss issues related to consumer...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - July 2017

Vania FranceschelliVania Franceschelli
FECIF Board Member & ANASF Executive Committee Member

Product governance requirements will lead to greater quality of advice

Product governance requirements represent one of the most outstanding innovations of MiFID II, aiming at ensuring that firms which manufacture and distribute financial instruments act in the clients’ best interests during all the stages...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - June 2017

David CharletDavid Charlet
FECIF & ANACOFI Chairman

Europe as financial advisers see it

A long time ago, the European Union used to be a place for the production of coal and steel. Nowadays, it seems to be a global Union far more engaged than the US with our jobs and other matters. Consider: in the US no would find “passports” for...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - April 2017

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Are you really ready for the future?

“The other day Ray was having a conversation with his 13 year old son and they ended up on a topic / issue that they needed more info on – his response was to “Google” it, his son chose to “YouTube” it. He realised at that point that they had different ways of looking for information, learning answers, and engaging with...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - February 2017

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Transparency not commission is the real key for 2017 and beyond

A number of industry commentators keep stating that it’s now all about the end of commission on a global basis – but is it, really? We all know of the switch to fees in the UK, and also a small number of other locations around the world, but certain other jurisdictions have also been quoted as moving in that direction, only for regulators in...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - December 2016

Paul ResnikPaul Resnik
Cofounder & Director of Finametrica

Robo 3.0

Robo advisors are, beyond any doubt, hugely disruptive to the financial advice market. But not in the way that many people expect.

Many commentators and analysts are still focused on trying to pick the ‘Uber moment’, when robos wipe out the old world by...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - October 2016

Schroders Investment ManagementSchroders Investment Management

Over confident investors and the help they need

Investors thinking they know more than they do about investing could cause problems when it comes to their future financial planning.

Investors could be missing out on billions of Euros in investment returns by over estimating their own ability to understand...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - August 2016

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Robo-advice financially unviable

The above was the main content of an article in a financial industry publication last month. This was based on a recent study, which found that UK robo-advisers are structured in such a way that they will lose money and “most will go bust before acquiring the sizeable assets under management needed to survive”.

Food for thought, not least for regulators – many of whom seem...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - June 2016

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Do consumers and advisers finally have the same goals?

Over the last year or two it has struck me that the increasing complexity of regulation is not only being seen in a negative light by the financial advisory and intermediary market – there are also growing concerns being expressed by consumers and, in particular, consumer groups, that this is having a negative impact on the public at large.

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Editorial - April 2016

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Interesting implications for the rest of Europe and beyond?

Last month saw the publication of the results for the UK’s Financial Advice and Market Review (FAMR). Whilst this might not have had much in the way of impact elsewhere across Europe, it perhaps should have done...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - February 2016

Jirí ŠindelárJiří Šindelář
Member of FECIF board of directors

The Brussels’ Circle of Overregulation

Even though the European Union was given a series of warnings regarding its effort to regulate anything and everything, it did not slow down. Despite proclamations about “changing the course” and “smart regulation”, from November to December...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - December 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Robo-advice: fact and fiction

I have lost count of the amount of articles about so-called robo-advice. It certainly is the “flavour of the month” and, if we believe all that we hear, will soon become the most important element in the delivery of financial services. I have some strong views on this….

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - October 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Where now for commissions?

European regulators eventually “stood back from the brink” and within the agreed text of both MiFID 2 and the IDD (Insurance Distribution Directive) fell short of a complete commission ban – a ban that many thought might well happen as little as 12 months ago!...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - August 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

The importance of effective representation

The compromise text for the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) was recently finalised and it was very pleasing to see that the vast majority of the proposals put forward by FECIF in the recent consultation period have been heeded.

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - June 2015

Garry HeathGarry Heath
Director General Libertatem

Garry Heath announced the launch of Libertatem last month, a new trade association set up to represent all types of financial advisers based in the UK. His thoughts and plans are outlined below – they have great relevance to the rest of Europe.

Over the last decade the industry has lost sight ...

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Editorial - April 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

10 reasons to use a Financial Adviser

Many people have the perception that only the very wealthy need financial advice. However, the facts are that anyone can potentially benefit from such advice...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - February 2015

Garry HeathGarry Heath
Journalist, The Heath Report assured

IFAs: Support trade associations or jeopordise independence

The last month has been one of travel. Firstly a symposium to address in Toronto and then it was Brussels and the FECIF conference...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - September 2014

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Our immediate goals

I was very pleased to be elected as the new Secretary General of FECIF at our last Board meeting, it is very much an honour to represent a body that supports and promotes the adviser...

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Editorial - June 2014

Paul StanfieldPeter Brooke
Financial Planner, member and partner with the Spectrum IFA Group

Should I use a Financial Adviser to help me?

Creating a financial plan is NOT a complicated thing to do; it is an audit of where you are today, financially, and where you want to be at different stage...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - May 2017

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

The value of advice – and the cost of being unadvised

There have been numerous studies over the years that have shown the value of good quality financial advice – not least, the fact that clients that receive it are, in general, significantly better off in retirement and much more financially protected during their life journey towards that point...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - March 2017

Vania FranceschelliVania Franceschelli
FECIF Board Member & ANASF Executive Committee Member

We need new market propositions not unnecessary bans

The final date for the transposition of MiFID II in each Member State – January 3rd 2018 – is fast approaching. Is it possible to see some initial insights into the industry, in order to foresee the impact of the Directive on business models? In particular...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - January 2017

Daniel GuéguenDaniel Guéguen
Head of Strategy and Lobbying at PACT European Affairs

2017: action, action, action

”My right flank is destroyed, my left flank is in retreat, everything is fine – attack!” Those were the words of General Foch in the darkest moments of World War One. We are there once again. Sink or act – that is the choice we have.

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - November 2016

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Playing your Trump card

Well, for those of us surprised by the Brexit vote - and there were plenty in the City of London that is for sure – the US election creates a whole new perspective with regards to astonishment, and on a much wider spectrum. I don’t know what it says about Hillary Clinton and her campaign – well, on reflection, I probably do – but the fact that Trump won, allied to the UK’s EU...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - September 2016

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

This famous quote was a statement made by Mark Twain on hearing that he had been mistakenly announced dead. Although it is apparently a slight misquote, the meaning remains very much in line with what the great writer intended. It also came to my mind the other day when I was once again thinking about so-called “robo-advice” and...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - July 2016

John WestwoodJohn Westwood
FEIFA Board Member and Blacktower Group Managing Director

Brexit: a disaster or something far less worrying?

The British electorate has given its verdict on the UK’s membership of the European Union in no uncertain terms but, in spite of some emotional appeals to the contrary, this is not a disaster.

It is worth remembering that on the 20th February 2016, when David Cameron announced that the EU referendum would...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - May 2016

Rebecca MurphyRebecca Murphy
Director of Sales & Marketing at Praemium
Re-engaging the investor

Re-engaging the investor

It’s rough sailing right now for investors and savers alike! Volatile markets and low interest rates are the norm, and investors are bombarded with information about products and services without understanding how any of it relates to them...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - March 2016

David DentonDavid Denton
Member of FECIF board of directors

You can run, but you can’t hide

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Common Reporting Standards (CRS) - also known as Automatic Exchange of Information - is gathering pace post FATCA. For decades, developed economies have wrestled with the notion that wealth overseas, whilst not illegal...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - January 2016

Hans-Jürgen BretzkeHans-Jürgen Bretzke
CEO of FinanzAdmin  GmbH

Some of the myths surrounding fintech companies

“I would go so far as to say that any broker armed with an average customer base and network is better placed than a fintech company on the strength of his or her client contacts alone.”

In this guest contribution, Hans-Jürgen Bretzke, a member of ...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - November 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Pension provision - is this the real “gap”?

The “advice gap” has received considerable coverage in the personal finance pages and trade press for some time now, across the UK in particular but it is also a growing concern across Europe and beyond. I wonder, however, if the focus should really be on the “pension’s gap”...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - September 2015

Vania FranceschelliVania Franceschelli
Member of the Board of FECIF / Member of the Executive Committee of ANASF (Head of Foreign Affairs)

In July FECIF sent its contribution to the ESMA Consultation Paper on the Draft guidelines for the assessment of staff knowledge and competence under MiFID II. This Consultation Paper is of outmost importance for all financial advisors in Europe, as it provides the basis for the definition of the qualification and...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - July 2015

Paul StanfieldPaul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

Making regulation more effective and accountable

The month of May saw the launch of a new trade association in the UK, as highlighted in last month’s editorial. It seems to me that its aims and concerns are highly important elsewhere in the EU.

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - May 2015

Johannes MuschikJohannes Muschik
Chairman of FECIF, Chairman of AFPA

New Chairman takes office

Back to my desk after our Annual General Meeting where I have been elected as Chairman for the period 2015/2016.  The AGM was also an opportunity to exchange views on a number of hot topics concerning our industry...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - March 2015

Jirí ŠindelárJiří Šindelář
Chairman of USF CR / Member of the board of FECIF

Squaring the circle, or back to roots? A view of European regulatory turmoil from the former “Eastern Bloc”

When the Velvet revolution overthrew the Czech communist government in 1989, a crucial part of the change was the transition to liberal...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - December 2014

Graham ReidGraham Reid
Managing Director at Classic Financial Solutions CVBA

The true worth of an adviser

A few years ago one of our clients suffered a nervous breakdown.  After early retirement he had continued working as a consultant from a small office at home, from where he also managed the family finances, something in which ...

>> CONTINUE READING

Editorial - July 2014

David CHARLETDavid CHARLET
ANACOFI

For my first editorial as President of FECIF, I would like to thank every member of the Board, the General Assembly and the Staff.
I would also express a special thought for Daniel Nicolaes, one of the best representatives of our profession in Europe, who disappeared a few months ago.

>> CONTINUE READING

 

 

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