Written on 06/10/2023

Who would have thought that the 2008 credit crunch would have entrenched and protected the big four banks from competition?  October’s Metro Bank scandal marks the end of the challenger bank era.  The big four are delighted.

The biggest change IFAC have seen since they started trading in 1996 is not RDR, nor NCD, but the challenge getting an FCA licence.  This really comes from the Elizabeth Hale 2021 report into the LCF mini bond scandal.  Since early 2022 any licence application that is not squeaky clean in all respects, and at the first attempt, will be rejected. 

This has finally stopped free-wheeling IFAs and mortgage brokers taking their clients from one business to another.  Clean references are effectively mandatory.  This means that you can finally build long term value with your licence, protected from competition.  But get kicked off a lender  panel or fall out with your network or employer and you will struggle to ever get approved by the FCA again.  “Period” as they say in New York.  And 2023 marks the year when even non financial allegations of misbehaviour truly become terminal to your career (Looney-Odey).

The drawbridge is well and truly up.  Regulation protects businesses from competition. IFA businesses are protected with barriers to entry (regulation) that leave other industries green with envy.  

IFAC are currently overwhelmed by enquiries for external file checking and audits.  Firms are looking to drive down risk and be able to show this to counterparties and therefore increase value.  Stock markets, particularly in the UK, may never be as cheap again in our lifetimes, and by almost any measure you choose, are lying at long term historic lows.  

Put this altogether and it is clear: there has never been a better time to be an IFA. You are the elite!

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