Martin Tilley | SSAS Pensions | WestBridge SSAS
Group SSAS

WestBridge SSAS Director on saying goodbye to the regulations

After being regulated for over 30 years WestBridge SSAS Director, Martin Tilley, was recently featured in an article for Money Marketing to discuss his feelings of whether being unregulated in his role for WestBridge has helped or hindered him. Here is what he had to say.

Some days in your life feel like milestones, be they personal events such as marriage or the birth of your children, or career based goals such as attaining a professional qualification. It was with mixed emotions then that a milestone passed for me this month with the cancellation of my Chartered Insurance Institute membership.

A career change at the end of last year saw me step back from the advisory role I had held as a wealth manager, to a management role at SSAS specialists: WestBridge Group. Although I had ceased to be regulated effectively from the cessation of my previous role, all the while my Statement of Professional Standing remained valid it didn’t feel like the door had finally closed.

With my SPS and membership renewal due at the beginning of January, it was time to face the facts that a 33 year run of being a regulated individual was coming to an end. This made me reflect on that period and the feelings I was experiencing.

My regulated journey started back in 1988, when as a new employee of a Surrey based insurance company, I attended a morning training session which included a 50 question multiple choice examination, the answers to which had all helpfully been included in the course. Having sailed through the exam, I was “authorised” to sell the company’s products to the world at large!

Later that same year, a further job change saw me switch to an actuarial practice and during my 30 year tenure I provided advice through and dealt with FIMBRA, LAUTRO, the PIA, the actuarial SRA, the FSA and finally the FCA. As well as advising, I was also able to see the regulatory progress of the FSA/FCA of the firm who have become an established SIPP provider. Whilst in the latter years of that employment I did cease to give advice, moving more into a management and communication role, my regulated status was still useful in knowing where my guidance to clients had to end before it strayed into advice. It was also no doubt useful for my ability to verify identity and address documentation for the purposes of anti-money laundering, a task I must have performed many hundreds of times!

So as regulation has stuck with me through near my whole career, has it helped or hindered? Several ex-colleagues and peers have suggested non regulation must be a blessed relief. But in truth, whilst I will not miss the constant updates necessitating changes in practice and processes nor the frustration of the review of and compliance with multiple annual consultation and policy documents, I can honestly say that having been a regulated individual has benefited me personally on numerous levels.

Firstly, there can be no doubt that the standard of regulation has increased many fold since 1988, albeit sometimes to keep up with, rather than lead the needs of the consumer. Those advisers currently regulated to advise are highly qualified, multi-skilled professionals. I consider this a noble profession, one that genuinely helps clients. Regulated individuals are held to a high standard of integrity and trust in their working life which spills over to their personal character. They are usually held in high esteem alongside other more established professions and the work they do is deeply rewarding.

To be continually regulated requires an individual to maintain and continue to grow their personal knowledge which must also be a positive. My career must have benefitted from the continuing need for examination passes to demonstrate that knowledge and competence, but so has my personal development. I’ll be saving the regulatory fees but sadly cannot say goodbye to the need for CPD just yet, as I will retain this need to maintain my Fellowship of the Pension Management Institute.

That is not to say however, that I am winding down my career. I am probably as busy now in my current role as I have been at any time in my career. Many of our current SSAS clients are non advised and as our service proposition grows, I am able to identify with those clients, all those areas where the services of a regulated adviser are required. Fortunately, we have a growing network of just those advisers to whom I can now refer and whose advice I can watch, relaxed from afar.

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