MRM has recently launched Debate & Discussion, a new initiative within the MyFS stable of ideas and events. The first one considered the opportunities and challenges for the wealth management industry given the upcoming pension reforms. Why this subject?
We have been talking to our clients and others in our network for some time about the pension rule changes which free consumers from buying annuities and so, on the eve of the new legislation being introduced, wanted to take a closer look at how business leaders believe they will impact the industry. What are going to be the opportunities and challenges?
Who was on the panel?
We invited influential figures from across the wealth management industry to join the debate. Taking part in the discussion were:
- John Cowan, Executive Chairman at Sesame Bankhall Group
- Chris Williams, Chief Executive of Wealth Horizon
- Jon Gwinnett, Pensions Technical Manager at Nucleus
- Rob Williams, Head of Distribution at Royal London Asset Management
How optimistic are those that you spoke to about the new rules?
They largely seemed positive and upbeat. The pension rule changes create multiple options for consumers as they approach retirement, making the need for good quality financial advice more important than ever before.
Did the participants see any challenges and risks ahead as well?
Yes, definitely. Getting consumers engaged and interested in obtaining professional financial advice will be crucial. In addition, our MyFS participants believed that those with smaller investment pots should not get left behind. The industry as a whole needs to work together to make sure that the reforms are a success.
And where does this all leave the potential for industry consolidation over the next 12 months?
The wealth management industry is changing fast, not least given the trend for insurance companies to buy up distributors. None of the participants in our debate saw this market movement slowing down anytime soon, particularly given the arrival of new entrants.
Moving on from wealth management, tell us a little about your life outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
I am a fan of cosy pubs serving real ales and I love cheesy tunes. To keep fit I enjoy playing squash and hiking in the ‘great outdoors’.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
During the week, I always have the BBC News website open on my computer and the financial services trade publications’ e-newsletters are great for keeping up with breaking industry news. But when it comes to the weekend, I refuse to read things on the screen as I enjoy pouring over printed newspapers.
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
People that aren’t organised. I am never without my lists and get really wound up when others forget to do things they have committed to.
What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day?
I would sign up David Cameron for a head to head TV debate with Ed Miliband, so when he returned after my 24 hours in charge he couldn’t get out of it!
What would you do if you received a windfall of £1000?
I would buy a plane ticket and head for a break with friends in one of my favourite regions in the world, the Middle East. I have been lucky enough to visit numerous countries, but there are always more places to go in the region.