So, before the recent virus attack, I attended a lecture entitled “Progress who needs it?” at the Drapers Hall by Johan Norberg a Swedish Professor.

His central message was that government interference was not helping progress but hindering it and the more interference that happened the worse the outcomes for the public and consumers. 

This is the opposite of what regulation’s proponents would wish us to believe. I suspect that Professor Norberg would have great support from advisers. It is also profoundly against the approach to this Chinese virus.

Professor Norberg also warned us all against Uggr!

What’s Uggr? The Vikings had all sort or words for fear. Just like the Icelanders have 46 words for snow. Both the Vikings and their Icelandic cousins tend to create many words for things they see a lot. 

Most Norse “fear” words are no doubt describing the fear they had inflicted on others, but Uggr is the Old Norse word for a fear inflicted by Vikings on themselves. It specifically describes an irrational fear.

Imagine a Viking raiding party who have swept all before them and are now about to embark on one more raid. Suddenly, for no reason, a feeling of foreboding sweeps across the party. The berserkers can barely raise cry. If they attack now and despite their overwhelming force they will lose. Let’s wait.

But you do not have to be a Viking. Our Uggr is an irrational fear of regulatory retribution. In blogs passim, I have called this the Stockholm Syndrome. Either way it is not just a Scandinavian problem - it is much closer to home.

For the last two decades, advisers have been overwhelmed by Uggr:

In the year 2000: advisers helped over 16m consumers. 70% of the 23m advice market - Now we are 25%. 

In the year 2000: UK, Dutch and Irish advisers controlled 89% of all the private pensions in Europe - Now it is 15%

In the year 2000: the status of advisers was protected by the regulator. Now - the regulator does it best to undermine advice. 

In the year 2000: the UK had 39,500 advisers - Now 28,334. In 2,000, Regulatory Costs were £82m – they are now £480m

Why have advisers lost the market and influence they used to have? Uggr – the fear of getting involved. 

But if you do not protect your property; marauding hordes will take it. Ask the Vikings! By their inaction advisers have created a vacuum which will be filled by others.

The current form of regulation was created by the “We Know Best” brigade but this world is changing. The referendum result and the last General Election was about returning power to the people. 

The current virus is a godsend to those who seek to control us. To borrow from Voltaire "if the virus did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it". 

I am sure the legions of Sir Humphreys will agree. We are now not just in a country stricken by this invading illness. For many, the Nudgers, behavioural economists and social scientists we have all been drafted into their huge experiment that they can debate for decades to come.

So, stay safe, like a good Viking, and make it your resolution to cast off your Uggr.

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