I remember talking to friends and colleagues about it being harder to become a real estate agent than a UAE financial advisor. Blank stares, open mouths, bewilderment stared back at me. Although it reflected the IFA market, it also included the banks
There is a minority of advisors in the UAE who are dedicated and ethical, however they are overshadowed by a lot of unregulated, unqualified people even qualified advisors that sell investment products and savings structures, either through a regulated company, unregulated company or through a bank. They all however had one thing in common. Insurance Backed Savings Plans or Investment Plan that served the institution and advisor and not the client.
Over the last few months we have seen and heard very clear messages coming from the regulagors.
First, we had SCA regulating funds, companies, demanding education, qualifications and annual CPD targets.
Then we had the Insurance Authorities starting with Circular 33, and after much consultation with the various stakeholders they announced Circular 12. The end of consultation was May 11 with an intended rapid introduction of the new laws. It was regulations, qualifications, fees and sanctions.
Thirdly we had the Central Bank on May 11 throw their hat into the ring. They did not wait for the response of the IA (bearing in mind that the Central Bank does not regulate the insurance side), however they do regulate the banks.
The message has been repeated time and again from all regulatory authorities.
“The responses provided to the Consumer Protection Department at the Central Bank in relation to these ongoing complaints were not satisfactory”
The words being quoted “customer profiling”, “suitability of products”, “transparency” “grievances redressal mechanism (handing complaints)”. “qualifications”
Very similar words from the IA and Sca.
Then you hear the voices of the product providers, banks and IFA’s, we welcome those changes.
Well why did it take the IA, SCA and the Central Bank to step in and say STOP! We have had enough.
The blame lies on the industry, the companies and the advisors, despite what was happening in other jurisdictions and we knew why these changes were happening they still continued making hay while the sun shone even though the clients were suffering. The providers were also happy to deal with unlicensed companies, with products that fail to deliver what is promised. Products that they knew benefited themselves and the sales people more than the clients. Fee structures that were so opaque very few people could understand them let alone clients. These stakeholders had little moral compass to make a stand and either change or demand change.
Yet there were other individuals and companies that did make a stand, did change and become more client focused. They should be applauded and continue to flourish.
The message is now clear, The Game is Over.
For unlicensed companies, just close shop and move on.
For individual IFA’s go to work for a regulated company, become regulated, registered, do the exams, do your CPD and take this Holistic view you keep talking about, bring clients products and fees that are designed for the client. If you are unable to survive in this new environment, then move on.
For companies and banks, train up your staff, do wealth management with the customer first. Do what you should be doing “Wealth Management” not selling overpriced, inflexible savings plans,
The clients were not there to service you, you were there to service the clients. The clients need help to save and plan, do that, help them.
To those who said you can’t survive on the new fee structure, this may be so, but in the last century when I worked for an investment house, our fee structure for the clients worked out at 1% p.a. and it was success. For the clients, for the company and for the employee. It was a win win solution.
I and many other professionals look forward to the new future.
Have a great day.