The imminent Retail Distribution Review prompts the chairman to consider how he can compete with other groups to seduce financial advisers - a scheme to help them pass exams.

”Do you think we fund managers are doing all we can to help financial advisers successfully make the transition to the brave new world of RDR compliance?” asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we met for a pint or two of Caspar’s Movember Mouie at The Potential New Member Of The Blue Oyster Bar.

“I suppose some are and some aren’t,” I replied. “One or two fund groups are going to extraordinary lengths to help advisers along the road to 1 January 2013 and beyond and, I would say, are making a real difference. Others are perhaps talking a better game than providing any real and practical help and still others haven’t yet worked out this is a really good way to win brownie points with advisers.”

”If I carry your unconscious body out of a burning building, I can’t imagine you will be too bothered whether I was motivated by a desire to save your life or merely to nick your wallet”

“Interesting you should put it like that,” said the chairman. “Do you think a fund group’s motivation for offering RDR-oriented assistance matters?” “Not in the slightest,” I replied. “If I carry your unconscious body out of a burning building, I can’t imagine you will be too bothered whether I was motivated by a desire to save your life or merely to nick your wallet.

“So, would I be right in thinking Scam’s movers and shakers are considering an initiative to let advisers know the company is fighting in the trenches alongside them?” “It seems like the right thing to do,” nodded the chairman. “Right for Scam or right for advisers?” I asked. “As you have just so ably illustrated, does it really matter?” shrugged the chairman.

“Fair point,” I conceded. “So what’s the plan?” “I’m so glad you asked,” the chairman replied. “As a company, we really do want to get this right so first of all – and I know this may come as something of a shock to you – we carried out extensive scientific research into the RDR-related issues that most exercise the financial advice sector and then we focused on the most, well, least popular.” (Scam continues below)

“Meaning?” I prompted. “Meaning we got a trainee to monitor all the business-to-business websites for a few weeks and he collated the topics that provoked the biggest threads and the most whingeing from readers,” the chairman admitted. “It was quite tricky because there really was quite a lot of whingeing – so very much whingeing – but eventually we decided helping with qualifications was the way to go.”

“Shrewd choice,” I said. “Did you see that the good, good people of Sesame Bankhall, or whatever they’re calling themselves this month, came to the same conclusion? They have recruited no less a guru than memory champion and Guinness Book of Records memory record breaker David Thomas to run a course to help advisers pass their exams.

“More specifically, Thomas, who is not merely an expert but a leading expert in accelerated learning, has developed a process called the ’Diploma Effective Learning System’, which has been tailored to meet the demands of passing the CII’s R0 and J0 exams and will include tips on how to learn and revise correctly using interactive learning techniques.”

“Not bad, not bad,” the chairman conceded grudgingly. “But I think Scam may be able to up the ante on that one.” “Please tell me the next sentence out of your mouth will not contain the word ’McDonald’s’,” I pleaded. “McDonald’s?” replied the chairman looking confused. “What have they got to do with financial qualifications?”

“Depends who you speak to,” I shrugged. “But I interrupted – you were saying how you were going to go one better than a memory expert?” “Hypnotism,” said the chairman simply. “We couldn’t afford that Derren Brown chappie but I’m confident, once he’s read a book on the subject, our trainee will be able to perfect all of that ’In my eyes, not around the eyes’ stuff and we’re up and running.

“Then once we’ve cornered the market on qualifications, we’ll also be able to help advisers with …” “Swiftly changing the subject,” I interjected, “did you see Fidelity’s Ian Spreadbury won the 15-year-old Virgin Challenge?” “I did indeed,” nodded the chairman. “Really very impressive of him – although I have a bad feeling I may have misunderstood what the whole thing was about.”