CompaniesMay 15 2013

Apfa renews efforts to force adviser long-stop

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BySimoney Girard and Kevin White

The Association of Professional Financial Advisers is set to renew its efforts to lobby for the introduction of a long-stop and a regulatory dividend, Chris Hannant has said.

The policy director for Apfa said that, having been unable to implement an amendment within the Financial Services Bill to allow for the creation of a limit on the period for which an adviser might be liable for any complaints, and given the recent shift to twin peaks regulation, a period for allowing “the dust to settle” had seemed reasonable.

But since the FCA has started putting its policy teams into place, Mr Hannant said it was now time to start “prodding the FCA” to get a conversation started again about the practicalities of a long-stop.

The Association’s ‘limit the liability’ campaign last year, in association with life assurer Zurich and Financial Adviser, had generated considerable interest and may have played a role in encouraging Lord Sassoon, former commercial secretary to the Treasury, to push for a long-stop and regulatory dividend in a bid to have enshrined in law a protection for advisers against complaints made about advice given even decades previously.

Mr Hannant added: “The FSA did look at the question, but this was through a different lens. The FCA has a different set of objectives and we are now trying to get something in the diary to recommence discussions.”

He said Zurich was still involved with promoting the introduction of this protection limit for advisers.

Last year, Apfa and its partner Zurich issued an 18-page report that highlighted the recurrent issue that open-ended liability is preventing investment in firms and hindering the development of the advice profession.

According to the report, 75 per cent of consumers supported some form of a limit on liability for advice, while 52 per cent believed advisers should be responsible for the advice they give for less than 15 years.

Adviser View

Simon Mansell, director for Worcestershire-based Temple Bar IFA, said: “The advisory community is the only one that is outlawed in respect of a long-stop. We have never had a satisfactory answer as to why it hasn’t been applied. For the industry to make the transition to a profession we need the protection and rights that a long-stop would offer.”