Emma Ann Hughes 

Why the FCA's register is like Tinder

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

While I am pleased the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has added a search engine function to its register to allow consumers to locate financial advice firms in their area, really all it has done this week is deliver the financial services equivalent of Tinder.

Consumers can now search using their own postcode on the FCA's register and select from four advice categories of mortgages, pensions, investments or debts.

The function will offer a results page tailored to the search criteria, on which authorised and unauthorised firms and appointed representatives are flagged with direct contact details.

Unauthorised advice firms featured in the search are signalled in red with a note reading: "We strongly suggest you avoid dealing with this firm".

Each authorised firm and appointed representative entry features a list of the firm's investment types - but this function is disabled for unauthorised companies.

While it is great the FCA has improved the search function on the register, it still isn’t delivering the depth of information that anyone seeking a financial adviser needs to pick one.

When looking for a financial adviser, should you be looking for the nearest port in your financial storm or someone capable of building a relationship with?

At the end of last year, MPs were told around 13,000 steelworkers who requested a pension transfer value from the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) have struggled to find a qualified adviser to help them using the Financial Conduct Authority register.

I don't think these thousands of individuals were looking for the nearest man in a suit with a financial advice qualification.

Did they want to meet local advisers? Or, did they want to meet a highly qualified, experienced adviser with a satisfied client base who is able to meet their exact requirements?

What the FCA needs to deliver through its register search function is the ability to drill down to a list of advisers with what matters to the consumer.

Some consumers would be more comfortable with a big high street name they recognise who may have an upheld complaints list as long as your arm at the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Other consumers may want the intimacy of a one man band, willing to come and talk to them in their own home.

Come on FCA – create a register that allows a search for a compatible adviser and not just the nearest one.

emma.hughes@ft.com

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