Simoney Kyriakou  

FCA's register is a search too far

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Scammers and clones exist and they need to be outed and routed. There is no argument about this.

But the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA's) latest idea, to include 'scammers in your area' in its register of advisers is a step too far along that road to educating and alerting consumers.

Put it this way. If I am putting together my grocery list online, I do not also want to see pictures of food I haven't searched for, which may or may not have allergen or other warnings attached.

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It would confuse my search and possibly lead to me clicking on something I didn't want, or something potentially dangerous.

Likewise, if I want to find a mortgage adviser in Surrey, I do not want to also be presented with a list in which potential scammers and clone firms have been interspersed with properly authorised and qualified advisers.

It is good to raise awareness and list potential fraudsters to help people avoid being suckered in, but this should be completely separate from the list of qualified and authorised financial advisers. 

The risks of a wrongly placed click are too great otherwise. It's the online equivalent putting scorpions in a bag of pick and mix and attaching a risk warning to their tails. Someone is likely to get stung. 

Indeed, as financial advisers told this paper last week, such a move serves only to confuse. 

At the time, Darren Cooke, director of Red Circle Financial Planning, said he would like to see only authorised firms feature in the search results and with further qualifications cited for each company.

He said: "The inclusion of clone or unauthorised firms is woefully confusing and inaccurate - frankly, as it stands at the moment, the directory is a step back rather than forwards."

Thankfully this enhancement to the list by the FCA seems to be a beta test only, and may be changed. I hope so, in the interests of consumers and advisers alike.   

Simoney Kyriakou is deputy editor of Financial Adviser