Trust and transparency seemed to be on advisers’ minds this week, as providers and regulators were urged to pull their socks up to make intermediaries lives a bit easier.
As the working week comes to a close, here is the week in news:
1) Trust issues
Aviva hoped to restore faith in its credibility by launching new enhancements to its adviser platform for 2019.
The platform was unavailable for six days in January 2018 after it moved to technology provider FNZ, and also had issues with its client reporting function.
There were also technical issues which affected payments for people in drawdown, while advisers reported they were not getting their payments through the platform.
Lindsey Rix, the provider's managing director of savings and retirement, told FTAdviser Aviva will complete any "outstanding remediation on the platform and any remaining fixes, which are now predominately presentational and individual issues, as opposed to anything systemic".
2) Second guessing
Advisers were also seeking clarity from the Financial Conduct Authority this week concerning what they must do to produce a "reasonable estimate" of costs.
Cost disclosure requirements under Mifid II came into effect in January 2018, but it is only this year advisers have had to begin disclosing actual costs and charges associated with client investments, rather than just estimates.
In a review published last week the regulator found while levels of compliance under Mifid II had improved, some companies "still had work to do" and were better at disclosing the costs of their own services than those of relevant third-parties.
However, Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, said the principle of ‘reasonable estimates’ will naturally lead to inconsistencies of interpretation and application.
He warned it is incumbent on the FCA to provide examples to achieve greater uniformity and avoid the risk of second guessing.
3) I'm a Mortgage Prisoner, Get Me Out of Here
The government did offer up some clarity this week, although it wasn't the best news to receive.
It confirmed not all mortgage prisoners will be helped by recently proposed changes to the Financial Conduct Authority's responsible lending rules.
In a letter sent to Nicky Morgan MP, chairman of the Treasury select committee, at the end of January and published March 5, John Glen MP, economic secretary to HM Treasury, said it was not "feasible" to require purchasers of the loans of mortgage prisoners to offer new home loans to these individuals.
He said: "This will be a commercial decision for individual lenders based on their risk appetite and the individual circumstances of the customers looking to switch to a cheaper deal."
4) Lucky seven
Talking of pulling socks up, advisers were also told this week that the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment has increased the requirements for members to become Certified Financial Planners - with the professional body's level seven diploma now becoming the highest level financial planning qualification in the UK.
Candidates looking to complete the new study pathway to certified financial planner (CFP) certification will need to meet entry requirements for the new CISI level six certificate in advanced financial planning exam, followed by a financial plan assessment at level seven.