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Apfa to lobby local councils, develop advice referrals

Chris Hannant, director general of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, has told FTAdviser the trade body plans to hold talks with local authorities over the coming year in a bid to bolster the amount of referral business related to long-term care needs..

He said: “2013 has presented significant opportunity. An issue of increasing significance and one where advisers will have a positive role to play will be planning for retirement. Auto-enrolment and financing long-term care present an opportunity to demonstrate the value and need for financial advice.

“In 2014, we will be looking to develop opportunities for advisers in working with local authorities to provide advice to those who have to finance their care needs. Promoting financial advice as part of the solution enables Apfa to boost support for the need for a healthy and growing advice sector.

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“From everything I see, there will be a continuing, if not greater need for financial advice, and Apfa will be doing all it can to work with its members to bring about the best environment for financial advice businesses.”

Earlier this year, FTAdviser revealed that councils could be blocking referrals to financial advisers over fears that past mis-selling scandals would be repeated in future. Local authorities are thought to have been against a draft proposal in the Long-Term Care Bill that would have forced them to refer to professional advice.

The provision was removed from the final draft of the Bill, which now requires authorities simply to refer to services independent of their own, including charities and other organisations. Providers including Partnership and Just Retirement are pushing for the professional advice demand to be reinstated.

The Association of British Insurers, which held a meeting with providers, councils and advisers in November, has dismissed suggestions councils are blocking referrals of long-term care self-funders to financial advisers, but has admitted that there is “a lot of work” to do.

Elsewhere, reflecting on the first year of the Retail Distribution Review, Mr Hannant said the industry is yet to see the full impact of the rules changes and warned more change will come as firms adapt to the new environment.

Apfa previously estimated that nearly 60,000 potential clients may have been turned away in 2013 due to costs associated with the RDR.

The trade body is currently preparing evidence for the FCA’s post-implementation review due in 2014, in which Apfa has stated it will press for stability for the sector and reduction of regulatory costs.

While in 2013 there was an increase in the number of free cases at the Financial Ombudsman Service and a reduction in Money Advice Service fees, Mr Hannant argued the FCA could do more to help, in respect of reporting, fees and the introduction of a long stop.

Mr Hannant said the introduction of a long stop continues to be at the top of advisers’ wish lists as we head into 2014.