OpinionNov 26 2015

Distrust dangerous FSCS survey

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The FSCS has just announced the results of a survey it commissioned from those nice people at Warwick Business School.

Surprise, surprise, it found that the FSCS, with a trust score of 67 out of 100, was more trusted than advisers who scored just 57, though at least we came out above banks at 51 and insurers at 49. In reality, given the British belief in fair play, I would be more interested in a survey about whether consumers felt it fair that advisers have to pay 100 per cent of the liabilities of firms who have created them, despite having absolutely no way of stopping, influencing or even being aware of their behaviour.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether commissioning surveys is a proper use of FSCS funds – you will recall that the FSCS has no money of its own, as it all comes from the levies it makes on the financial services sector – my real concern is how many of the 2,591 people who took part in this survey have actually used a financial adviser.

Over the years I have seen countless surveys which have portrayed the image of the financial adviser in a poor light. Indeed, one could argue that a score of 57 out of 100 is a significant improvement on much of the research we see. The reason for a poor image is not hard to fathom, as the stereotype financial adviser is so often mistakenly pilloried in the media – which, incidentally, scored 44 in the survey – yet, when you look at the facts behind the headline, the fault turns out to lie with a banker or someone similar, as opposed to an adviser.

I cannot help but feel that the result we are left with is one where the media image of the financial adviser is far lower than the reality felt by those clients who have actually experienced the benefit of personal financial advice. Indeed, it is very common to hear someone refer to their financial adviser as being different from the others one reads about as he or she is really very conscientious and “always goes the extra mile to make sure I am properly looked after”.

“The media image of the financial adviser is far lower than the reality”