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PFS: Consumer groups do public a ‘disservice’ over advice

Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, has revealed the professional body is planning to increase its consumer education activities to counter a lack of “balance” from consumer groups, many whom he says do the public a “disservice”.

Mr Richards said it will be a big challenge to try to stop consumer groups tarring advisers with the same brush as banks direct salesforces.

In an interview with FTAdviser, Mr Richards said there was no question that things do go wrong at times with financial advice, but there were mechanisms in place to protect consumers far more than some consumer lobbyist groups share with the public.

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He said that bodies such as the PFS should take up the mantle of providing “guidance” on how to advance professionalism - and that part of this role includes engaging with the public directly to counter some “negative views”.

Mr Richards said: “I think the professional body should be one of the main centres of guidance on how to push the profession further forwards. It is incumbent in our role that we should engage with consumers and we certainly have that within our remit.

“We wish to overcome some of the negative views, particularly that some of the consumer lobbyist groups have about the financial advice profession.”

Mr Richards said the Personal Finance Society needs to start a much more active education process to highlight the importance of qualified advisers and how the industry has moved into being a profession.

He said: “We have already started to engage with some of the consumer lobbyist groups. Frankly, I believe they (consumer lobbyists) are doing the public a disservice by not providing balance.

“I think we have a lot of work to do to change their mindset and get them to provide a balanced view to the UK public.”

Click here to watch the first part of FTAdviser’s interview with Mr Richards.