A pivot year in retail financial services. IFAC believe this year has done as much to shape the future of financial services as almost any other year since the FSA started in year 2000. We know the mortgage market has collapsed, and the share market falls make this a signature year, but those things come and go and that alone is not what has made this such a dramatic year.
2022 has been the year when FCA authorisation standards have driven retail financial services into a corner, from which the small, weak and disadvantaged will have no escape. The LCF mini-bond scandal and the subsequent report by Dame Elizabeth Gloster delivered in late 2021 was the game changer.
A relentless drive to up the standards mean that most applications to the regulator now fail, citing issues as nebulous as lack of a convincing reason to set up a new company. If you apply, you must be prepared to fight your corner and demand your licence, with an impeccable record and vigilant approach.
Customers can look forward to increased standards and a reduction in scandals, but at a huge cost in increased fees, reduced access to advice and higher entry point to regulated advice. Fantastic news for you with a licence. Competition falls away, the drawbridge is up, the moat wider than ever and your licence is more valuable than ever before. IFAC see larger firms emerging as a result, as the industry struggles to replace the small broker firms that retire naturally. If you have a licence, look after it, because the restriction in competition will ensure your growth.
IFAC wish you a very happy Christmas.