Anyone who has worked in or around the pensions and investment industry over the last few decades will know that debate over cost transparency has been a recurring and increasingly hot topic over this time.
Often contentious and not without its colourful moments, years of denial led to unfortunate scalps being taken at trade bodies, repeated reviews by regulators home and abroad, and growing discomfort in Brussels and even Westminster as the truth about hidden costs became too clear and too significant to be swept under even the plushest of carpets.
As many readers will know I have been actively campaigning for cost transparency for more than 11 years now. And it is with not a little sense of achievement that the long and winding road to transparency is finally getting there.
When the FCA set up the IDWG and asked me to chair it, I was of course delighted, but knew the battle was far from won at that point. Never one to shirk from a challenge and inspired to seize this crucial moment, we set about populating the Group with the right people. Together we put our minds to designing the new cost disclosure templates that are the key mechanism needed to finally achieve the transparency needed.
That task was completed last year and approved by the FCA as the right way forward. The Cost Transparency Initiative (CTI) was then established to oversee the introduction and adoption of the new templates the IDWG had designed.
Having been so heavily involved in getting this far — and all without taking a wage from anyone — I was personally determined to do all I could to help the templates have the optimum positive impact they could. I was aware that as use of the templates was not mandatory for asset managers, there was still potentially a barrier to adoption. I knew through my work at the IDWG that there were enlightened souls in pension schemes, consultancies and asset managers that were keen to adopt this new openness, but I also knew there were many who would find it complex and challenging and others that would resist because of what it would expose to their clients.