FCA to change advice definition in January

FCA to change advice definition in January

The Financial Conduct Authority has said it will introduce its new definition of advice from Wednesday 3 January.

It has published a policy statement on the implementation of several changes which stemmed from the Financial Advice Market Review.

As part of this it has amended its handbook to change the definition of financial advice, meaning only advice which offers a personal recommendation will be considered regulated.

Any service a regulated firm offers which does not offer a personal recommendation will be considered guidance.

As part of its proposals the FCA had said those receiving guidance should have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Most of the industry representatives who responded to the FCA's consultation supported its proposals but some expressed concern about FSCS funding for claims relating to guidance falling disproportionately on advice firms.

In response, the FCA said: "We believe that any costs falling on the FSCS as a result of firm failures relating to guidance are likely to be minimal.

"The FSCS may pay compensation to an eligible claimant if it is satisfied that, amongst other things, the claim relates to activity conducted in connection with protected investment business or protected non-investment insurance business.

"Under our proposal, where a consumer makes a claim relating to guidance given by a firm that was conducting such business, we would require that the FSCS must treat the guidance as in connection with that business.

"We believe that the circumstances under which a firm would offer guidance that was not ‘in connection with’ designated investment business or protected non-investment insurance business would be very rare. Consequently, we believe that this is unlikely to represent a significant expansion in the scope of FSCS protection as compared to the status quo."

The FCA will also introduce rules which prevent firms which provide personal recommendations on retail investment products from soliciting or accepting inducements in connection with a firm’s wider advice business.

It also said it would add the findings rising from its experiences of its advice unit to its existing non-handbook guidance following a consultation in August but has not proposed any changes to this.

The FCA also said "nearly all" respondents supported its proposals for guidance on insistent clients, which had included the idea of separate suitability reports for advice which isn’t followed by their clients.

It had said advisers should ensure there is a clear distinction between the advice that is being acted against and any subsequent or concurrent advice.

In today's policy statement, the FCA said: "We do not agree that the insistent client guidance imposes new requirements or liabilities on firms. The guidance is designed to set out how firms may comply with certain existing obligations in the FCA Handbook when dealing with insistent clients.

"Guidance is not binding and need not be followed to achieve compliance with a particular rule or requirement but it indicates a possible means of compliance. It is open to firms to deal with clients in other ways that are consistent with our rules and principles."