Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rethinking the Economics of Pensions (and "A Day in the Life of a Financial Advisor")

On Thursday last week I went to the first day of the "Rethinking Pensions"conference in London. The ever so quiet and retiring, Con Keating (Brighton Rock) was the Chair. He started off the conference in his own unique style, by reminiscing about an event he had recently attended with the Lord Mayoress of London, during which she had asked him "what should the City of London do to make sure its financial services industry is sustainable?". Con replied by saying "Stop Stealing Money?" He said he did not expect to be invited back.

Robin Ellison from Pinsent Masons was the first speaker and he spoke on how the regulation of the financial services is bad. It is too bureaucratic, complex and very expensive to investors and companies.  We have a perfectly good legal system and if someone thinks they have been ripped off they should make a complaint to the courts, like they do in many other countries.

He doesn't think they add value and the £500 million annual cost of UK regulation  probably costs companies who are being regulated 10 times this amount. It has been estimated that the yield in Defined Benefit schemes is reduced by 2.3% by such regulation. He also believes that MPs should be forced to only pass laws on stuff they understand.

In a question to him I said that in the past bad practices were widespread from top to bottom and he had not recognised the scale of the problem and also the high bar on proving dishonesty that we have in this country?  That is why we need regulation. Robin said he was not convinced and the law could be enforced more effectively by the courts than by regulators.

Despite describing himself as an "arch Tory Capitalist" Robin said he did think that some things have to be done collectively. He believes that the proposals regarding annuities in the yesterdays budget are flawed. The Australian model shows that people will just take out their money and run. 

(see the excellent American YouTube above on "A Day in the Life of a Financial Adviser" which Robin showed during his presentation. It is tongue in cheek but shows the basic lack of understanding about financial affairs and also the widespread mistrust many people have of the financial services industry. I will post on other speakers from Day 1 as and when. I missed the 2nd day which is  a shame and I hope someone else will blog on it).

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