FCA treats all advisers with a heavy hand: Wright

Speaking at Personal Touch Financial Services’ annual conference in Birmingham, the network’s chief executive told attendees the regulator’s view was clouded by the assertion that firms had “built bad practice into our business models”.

He claimed the City watchdog was equally heavy-handed with all firms, regardless of their size, scope and regulatory record.

Speaking at the PTFS annual conference in Birmingham last week, he said: “I think the FCA thinks it’s pushing the industry away from bad practice and box-ticking exercises, and is keen to engage.

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“However, it still has concerns about pockets of resistance, will pursue firms with inadequate controls to the end, and have the same approach whether it’s a large network or small directly authorised firm, in spite of the added collective security that comes from a network.”

Also speaking at the conference was Helen Gasser, risk and compliance director at PTFS, who added: “Whenever we have conversations with the regulator, it seems heavy handed, and this uniform approach is hugely frustrating.”

In a further session, Doug Bennett, owner of West Sussex-based DB Financial, said the advisory community had to “get over” the restricted versus independent argument and think about the client.

Mr Bennett said: “We have to get over the term ‘restricted’. What is more important for the client is not whether advisers are restricted or independent, but that we look after the customer’s goals and dreams.”

At the conference, PTFS also confirmed the details of its new restricted panel proposition for its network members.

Adviser view:

Brendan Dixon, owner of London-based BKD Wealth Management, said that a factor in favour of the new PTFS proposition was that it “allows me to spend more time financial planning and less time choosing funds”.

FCA Right to Reply:

A spokesman for the FCA said: “We want a genuinely constructive relationship with the advisory industry. Part of our role in protecting the integrity of the financial system, and the advisory industry as part of it, is to weed out bad practice. The action we take against those who fail to live up to the standards we expect benefits those in the sector who work so hard in their customers’ interests.”