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PFS: Don’t believe the hype, adviser numbers up to 34k

A morose atmosphere prevailing across the financial advice sector driven by a consensus that adviser numbers are falling is misplaced as adviser numbers are actually on the rise and are likely to have reached around 34,000, according to the Personal Finance Society’s Keith Richards.

Mr Richards, the former Tenet director who took over as PFS chief earlier this year, told FTAdviser that the Chartered Insurance Institute, the accreditation body of which PFS is a part, has been issuing an increasing number of certificates to new advisers since the Retail Distribution Review came into force.

In a video interview Mr Richards said the CII has issued more than 2,000 statements of professional standing, which are required to give advice post-RDR, since January and that these numbers suggest a rising adviser population.

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He said: “We took over 2,000. The gross population is probably up to the 34,000 to 34,500 mark.

“While there has been negative noise about a certain number of advisers that have exited actually I think the latest statistics are showing the adviser market has actually increased in the last six months.”

According to FCA numbers published earlier this year, the number of advisers was down 20 per cent year on year in December 2012. At that time 31,132 had a statement of professional standing.

Back in April, FTAdviser reported Matrix Solutions had stated the decline in the number of authorised firms had slowed post-RDR, dropping by just 14 from 23,596 to 23,582 between February and March 2013.

This is compared to the 233 that left between January and February 2013, which brought the total from 23,829 to 23,596.

Mr Richards said that the numbers showed that the RDR had not be the “armageddon” some had predicted and showed that professionalism in the market was higher “than was given credit”.

He said: “While it (RDR) has been a challenge – not to underestimate the frustration and challenge advisers have felt – we personally see they [advisers] have responded admirably. They have demonstrated their competence.

“What it demonstrates is there was probably a much higher level of competence and professionalism in the market than was given credit for by other external observers or commentators.

“It (RDR) certainly was not the Armageddon that many people were predicting. One of the things that has been demonstrated by the Retail Distribution Review is just how many advisers were capable and able of achieving higher levels of professional standing.”

To watch the full interview, click here.