Simoney Kyriakou  

FCA must focus on fraud, not IFAs

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Fraud rose 33 per cent in April as the Covid-19 lockdown came into full effect, according to data from Experian and the National Hunter fraud prevention service.

With scams and fraudulent schemes raging, the onus is on those responsible for consumer protection to take action. Namely, the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Consumer protection is one of its core pillars, so why isn’t it really cracking down on fraudsters, or promoting its work with the national fraud prevention services and even Interpol? 

Instead, we are told its own register has been susceptible to abuse, with fake companies setting themselves up under the regulator’s very nose. 

And yet the FCA is probing the financial capability of advisers during the Covid-19 outbreak, as if to suggest that an adviser whose income may have fallen as a result of the lockdown is somehow responsible for some future, as-yet-undefined consumer detriment.

We know this is not the case. Advisers had only just submitted their detailed, half-yearly financial data when the FCA demanded data from two, separate three-month periods as part of its Covid-19 impact survey. 

This data would not only have been out of kilter with existing six-month data, but advisers were given seven working days in which to deliver this information, as if they haven’t got enough to do already. 

Millions of pounds have been lost to fraud, and, if warnings from official bodies are anything to go by, millions more will be lost by the time the FCA’s impact survey is complete. 

Meanwhile, decent, honest advisers are justifiably concerned about whether they’ve brought in enough money during the Covid-19 lockdown to please the FCA.

With no let-up on advisers and no flexibility shown to them over 2020’s strange first half, will we see even more advisers throw in the towel? 

Simoney Kyriakou is editor of Financial Adviser