As we head towards what is increasingly likely to be a coalition government, can our experiences of the current coalition be used as a benchmark? The Tory/Lib Dem coalition we have had since 2010 has for the most part worked well in terms of providing a stable government. One of the key benefits of a stable alliance is that, despite each having their own agenda, two major parties joining forces for a common cause can often promote a level of debate and discussion you don't often get when one single party is in power. There is even an argument to say that it actually provides a more transparent process as discussion is often done more openly as both sides aim to get their points across to the electorate. It can also act to dampen some of the more extreme policies put forward by either party. Obviously there will be times when it can lead to political friction, the most notable in the recent parliament being the decision to raise student tuition fees.
Where a coalition is likely to be less effective is when the balance of power is held by a number of smaller political parties. In this scenario the greater lack of common ground and the need to barter and make concessions to get policies through could stultify the political process. And with no dominant ideological view to guide government, the potential for unfocused policies being introduced is increased.
This presents both good and bad news for financial planning. Good that the potential inability to move policies through quickly may give some respite to a sector that is having to swallow and digest an enormous amount of change at present. Bad that a less certain political environment may herald the introduction of badly formulated policies and legislation that damages the economic environment.
So in the absence of any one single party achieving a majority on polling day, a stable coalition is the next best outcome. In terms of stability, the worse possible outcome is a minority government having to work with a number of smaller political parties.
Change is of course something the financial planning sector thrives on and no matter what happens on May 7th, where there's change, there's opportunity. It's down to us to identify what those opportunities are.