Phil is a specialist in helping financial advisers and planners survive and thrive during periods of regulatory change. He is a former director of the Society of Financial Advisers as well as of the Institute of Financial Planning. Phil has spoken at conferences and worked with regulators and advisers across the world.

It’s interesting – to use a mild word – to experience the way these two terms are used almost interchangeably by many in our profession. Frustratingly, I include regulators in this group as well.

It’s a bit weird, as in my head, whilst the two are related, but very different to each other.

Let me explain:

If we take a fairly simplified definition of each of these terms, compliance is about adherence to and implementation of written rules, ethics is a theory or a system of moral values and culture is all about what a company does when there are no written rules.

So although there are significant differences between the three terms, and quite often a lot of conflicts, it is quite interesting how some companies will pick one to follow and believe they’re doing all three right. This may not quite be true.

One of the particular ‘buzzwords’ at the moment is the word ‘culture’. We see it crop up in all sorts of contexts.

An interesting exercise in this regard is to go to the FCA home page – you do have this saved as a favourite, correct? – and search on the word ‘culture’.

The top three results read as follows:

Why gifts should come with a financial planner attached

For the first time the UK has passed the USA in terms of the percentage of wealth that is ‘first generation’. That is, the current generation has actually made the money that they are now seeking to invest or to preserve. This has usually – but not always – been achieved by building up and selling a business.

Apparently, the old maps used to write ‘There be Dragons’ across uncharted lands. Perhaps for some clients, the risk warnings for dealing with offshore companies across multiple jurisdictions should be just as dramatic.

An increasing number of potential clients, especially wealthier people who are more likely to both need and use a financial adviser, have residence, assets, income or liabilities in more than one jurisdiction.

Phil Billingham says a sense of perspective is in order when it comes to the sunset clause deadline. He takes a look at what the basic issues are.

In April 1988 the industry as we knew it was going to shut down. These new IFAs were not going to be able to cope with the competition from the expanding direct forces and tied advisers…

Illuminate live speaker Phil Billingham looks at the difference that does – or should – exist between the pre and post RDR world of advice, and the role the regulator should play in that change.

No blog is complete without some random definition, curtesy of Wikipedia normally, so let’s get this one out of the way:

Phil Billingham takes a look at the scenario where people use the new pension freedoms to buy up a property for let and tells advisers it’s our job to make people aware and protect them from the circling sharks.

The press is full of it, and clients are already getting emails. In essence, it’s use your pension to buy a Property and let it out. Much better than one of those horrible ‘pension’ things. How can you lose? Hurray for pension freedom!

Well, as it says in ‘scoop’ (great book – worth a read) ‘To a point Lord Copper’.

Can we just row back a bit?

Phil Billingham argues that the current method of compliance monitoring is outdated and needs to change now.

As Brett Davidson so succinctly put it, “Only advisers using a charging system designed 300 years ago by product manufacturers think they have to work for free!” and therein lies the crux of the matter.

Our whole industry has been set up by product providers to sell products, which were designed back in the ‘good old days’.