The clock is ticking. In under three months, the UK wealth management industry faces one of its biggest regulatory overhauls. And as far as Barclays is concerned, the Retail Distribution Review “big bang” is an unmixed blessing for its business.
The RDR, a programme of reforms enacted by the Financial Services Authority, has been covered exhaustively by this publication over the past year or so. It is controversial - there have been concerns that up to 15 per cent or more of UK independent financial advisors could quit the industry, leaving less well-off clients without access to advice, for example. The RDR has triggered a rash of mergers and acquisitions, not to mention the regulatory IT budgets of big banks.
So how does Barclays feel as the industry enters the home straight?
“I think the RDR is going to drive a real flight to quality in the next few years. From an industry perspective, the RDR is challenging it to raise standards in terms of transparency, level of choice and quality of service. It gives clients an opportunity to be more demanding about what they expect from their managers,” Stuart Cummins, managing director, wealth and investment management at Barclays, said.
“We are already well-positioned for RDR and see this as a good opportunity to accelerate the growth of our business,” Cummins told this publication in a recent interview at the firm’s Brook Street offices in London’s Mayfair district.
Cummins, like many of his peers, must feel almost relieved the RDR is about to take effect, as he has been working on the project for more than two years now. His role is managing director in charge of the London and South East region for Barclays' private bank. Cummins knows Barclays inside and out: he has worked at the bank for 23 years, having worked in the wealth and investment management arm of the firm since it was formed in the middle of the previous decade.