In some of my previous Financial Adviser articles I have referred to the Treasury’s vitally important Financial Advice Market Review, and in particular to my belief that this should be a golden opportunity for advisers to make their voices heard.
The Treasury has now issued a direct ‘call for input’, and I urge you to seize this opportunity to let them know your views. The link to the review is on the FCA’s website at www.fca.org.uk, and I would encourage you to look carefully at the wide and varied list of issues due to be addressed. I would be very surprised to find any adviser who did not hold strong views on many of the areas covered in the review. It is also important to appreciate that it is not necessary to comment on every question, so you need not be daunted by the task and can simply focus on the aspects which cause you greatest concern.
The paper contains some basic common sense, and much that you may be comfortable with. Its core objective is to identify “how financial advice could work better for consumers”. I think most advisers would support a regulatory framework which ensured that everyone has access to good quality advice, including those who may not have access at the moment due to a lack of wealth or income.
However, the scope covered by this seemingly straightforward statement is huge. I believe there is also a key comment in the ‘introduction’ on page 5, which states that in the paper, the term ‘advice’ is not used in its regulatory definition but rather to capture a wide range of services offering support to consumers. Given the high costs of regulation and the strict obligations linked directly to the word ‘advice’ in its regulatory context, it is disappointing in the extreme that the Treasury’s call for input has not maintained the integrity of the regulatory definition of advice.
In the coming weeks I propose to use this column to share my thoughts on a number of the individual questions in the paper in more detail, in the hope that you may find them helpful.
In the meantime, responses to the FAMR must be submitted no later than 22 December. You can respond by email to FAMRSecretariat@fca.org.uk or by post to FAMR Secretariat, Financial Conduct Authority, 25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HS.
It is the government’s declared intention in the paper to include some changes in the chancellor’s next Budget, already less than six months away. Time is short; George Osborne is asking for your input - this really is a genuine opportunity to make yourself heard. Please do not miss it.
Ken Davy is chairman of the SimplyBiz Group