FCA in early stage of assessing if advisers are good value

FCA in early stage of assessing if advisers are good value

The Financial Conduct Authority has said it is in the “early stage” of thinking about value for money in the advice market.

The regulator has said it will carry out more work in the near future to find out whether the advice market is working well at delivering value for money or not.

But the regulator has not directly responded to questions about whether it thinks advisers are breaking existing rules when it comes to Treating Customers Fairly with the amount of cash they charge for their services or whether the rules are currently inadequate.

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Last week, the FCA published its mission statement and sector views where it expressed concern that consumers accessing retail investments through financial advice might not be getting value for money.

The regulator has said in retail investments relatively few advisers are transparent about their pricing before they sell advice, adding: “This does not incentivise advisers to compete on price and may result in limited pressure on them to reduce their charges.”

The FCA was also asked to reveal the evidence it had for making these claims about advisers but did not directly point towards any research, nor did it comment on how many firms it had visited to come to these conclusions.

A spokesman for the regulator said: “Our Sector Views draw on the wide range of information, research and insight held across the FCA, supplemented with information from a diverse range of external sources.

“We use this to set out what we already know about each sector and, just as importantly, where we need to know more.

“This can often mean that we highlight potential issues, like value for money, where we are at an early stage in our thinking and will need to carry out further work to assess whether the market is working well or not.”

The spokesman added that the regulator's efforts, as well as those of the industry itself, to improve the professionalism and standards of qualifications, had been successful in increasing the quality of advice given to consumers.

Dan Clayden, director of Devon-based Clayden Associates, said: "I don't think the FCA's claims are fair. We are not in a situation where our fees are hidden or opaque like commission.

"Clients may not shop around but I don't think it is because of fees. Unfortunately there is an obsession with driving down the cost of services."