Useful Advice or a Staggering Admission of Failure?

Can I draw a parallel between the sentiment of this article and football referees warning people not to play the beautiful game because, sometimes, players and managers behave poorly?

It’s not an entirely accurate analogy because referees would put themselves out of work with this kind of recommendation whereas, regulators of all colours generally like to keep themselves busy changing the rules of play and, in fact, the levelness of the playing field.  However, it holds some water in that referees warning people off football because of foul play bad management is admitting they aren’t really sure what the offside rule is, and that they can’t understand why vigorous blowing of their whistles isn’t making everything better.

The ‘spokesperson’ was also clearly off getting a pie and a beer when the explanation was given of the differences of purpose between SSASs and SIPPs.

You can’t tell someone who’s turned up in football boots, holding a football that he should have a go at the parallel bars

especially just because he doesn’t have any mates to play with.  Equally, if you’re a company owner or Director, looking for greater control over your fund in a way that also supports long term business objectives, a SIPP isn’t the right ball park, even if you are going to be the only member. The 2 products come with different functions and capabilities and, crucially, are aimed at different markets – different people; it’s astonishingly blunt to say “Football has hooligans, I recommend curling”.

The Business Owner and/or Entrepreneur would ideally get advice from a regulated Adviser who refers them to a reputable, regulated Provider.  If they do not take advice, then there is still great onus on the Provider to comply with all prevailing legislation but we aren’t talking about a retail product and we aren’t talking retail clients.  Right at its start, the article references ‘savers and then in the next sentence refers to ‘consumers’.  Herein lies part of the problem with this whole article, neither of those monikers is the most appropriate way of referring to a member of a SASS.  We agree, ‘savers’ and ‘consumers’, particularly the latter, are often going to be paying for whole lot of unwanted facility with a SSAS.  But that’s not who SSASs are for.

The article sagaciously recommends seeking advice from FSA-authorised advisers and I’d twirl my rattle in support of this, perhaps advocating TPR follow its own guidance.  The benefits of a bright advisor, who seeks providers with the ability and technical expertise to be financially agile and offer ethical, client-specific benefits is what TPR should be championing.  Clearer, responsive regulation to avoid the flexibility of the SSAS being taken advantage of; quite possibly a good move.  But sending team SSAS for an early bath is short-sighted and perhaps a bit lazy, just because the ref couldn’t get up the pitch in time to see what’s really happened.


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