So you think you’ve got 2012 sorted?!

The one thing we can be sure about as we approach the RDR deadline in the next few months is that there is going to be an argument about just how many advisers have left the industry as a result.

Ironically, it may actually be impossible to say with absolutely certainty.

Some advisers may have retired a little earlier than otherwise. Some may have sold up almost as soon as the original RDR documents were published. Some may become protection advisers, or introducers and consultants.

If they fall short of an exam or two, larger firms will probably be able to accommodate advisers until they finally get the grades, while a lot is going to depend on what year you use as a baseline.

However rather than worrying about IFA numbers in total, insurers, fund managers and platforms may be more concerned about what happens to their IFAs, i.e. the firms which currently recommend their products and services and which they hope will continue recommend them next year and beyond.

Providers have to play it a little bit by ear, just like everyone else. They will be asking themselves about charging shapes and whether their systems can facilitate them. But no-one can be sure what the new market norms for charging will be and what that means for the advice process and the recommendations that result from it.

More significantly, they will be asking themselves about business volumes.

Of course, with consolidation, fewer firms don’t necessarily mean less business written. If there is a fall in business there is a good chance that execution-only channels will make up some of the difference though once again, it may change the nature of what is recommended.

The true picture will probably not become apparent until later in 2013. What is clear is that detailed research about the market, both quantitative and qualitative, is going to be even more valuable then than it is now. Any serious provider will already have asked their business partners about their plans and business expectations post 2012 . But come the second or third quarter, advisers and providers will be able to tell each other what they are actually doing, and maybe most important of all how clients are adapting to the change.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be arguments, but it also means there will be concrete data on which to base business decisions. That may come as quite a relief to everyone involved in the market.

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