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No extra regs for retirement advice directory: Apfa

The director general of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers said in principle Mas’ plan to create a directory to make it easier for consumers to find a regulated adviser as they approach retirement was a good idea, but he warned the service must “make it attractive to advisory firms”.

He said: “We think there needs to be a directory of advisers for retirement to complement the pension flexibility reform.

“But if Mas tries to be a regulator, as they suggest by setting further standards beyond FCA requirements, not only will take up be low, but they will not be able to justify funding from the whole advisory sector.”

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Last week, Mas launched a consultation on the directory following a review in which it found that customers often find it a “confusing and fragmented” process to find an adviser.

Mas is proposing that the directory would include advisers who specialise in retirement advice, would be unbiased and non-commercial, and would list only those advisers who offer advice to all individuals irrespective of the size of their pension pots.

It would also allow consumers to search for an adviser by postcode, and compare the costs, specialisms, and qualifications of advisers. Advisers would not have to pay to be in the directory but would need to “satisfy some specified criteria which will be agreed by an independent panel of industry and consumer representatives”.

The consultation closes on 11 July 2014.

Meanwhile, Mas has written to mortgage advisers at online adviser network Cherry following a broker, who did not wish to be named, claiming it was “unfair” that all illustration documents had to include a statement telling clients they could shop around using Mas’ comparison tables.

A statement from Mas said: “This statement is a requirement of the FCA and is on the template for illustrations provided in the mortgage conduct of business rules.

“On our mortgage pages we suggest that consumers use a mortgage broker or financial adviser, and state that ‘taking advice will almost certainly be the best for you unless you are confident and competent in financial matters’.”

Adviser view

Sebastian van Mook, IFA at Shropshire-based Abacus Associates, said: “In principle this looks like a great idea. In practice, it could be impossible to manage. The question is, who will bear the cost of this? It will be the customer ultimately, and unfortunately.”