Mifid II  

FCA to tackle advisers over value for money

FCA to tackle advisers over value for money

Advisers have been warned they face fresh scrutiny because new European rules give the Financial Conduct Authority more powers to act.

The product governance rules of Mifid II include requirements that manufacturers and distributors of products get to know their target markets.

This means advisers will have to consider which target market a product is likely to be suitable for, have a distribution strategy for their target market and review the products they offer regularly.

Rory Percival, a consultant and former technical specialist at the FCA, said this will mean the regulator will be able to go into advice firms and ask to see how their clients are segmented.

He said: "There are a number of reasons why in due course product governance will become very high profile with the regulator.

"It puts into rules the view that the regulator has expounded for all these years about keeping the client at the heart of your decision process.

"Treating customers fairly is very airy fairy but product governance gives you all of that and gives you the steps you need to take and what both manufacturers and distributors need to do.

"That makes it much easier for the regulator to take action against firms doing things it is not happy with."

The FCA had product governance requirements before the introduction of Mifid II, but they were narrower than the new rules in terms of the financial instruments they covered.

Under the new rules, manufacturers - such as fund managers - must define a target market for each of their products.

Advisers will need to be aware of these and consider this when giving advice.

They must also report any sales outside the target market back to the manufacturer - though there are no rules to say selling a product outside its target market is necessarily wrong.

Some of the examples of things which the FCA might be able to crack down on with these new rules include value for money, and the appropriate use of platforms by advisers.

In its most recent business plan, the FCA expressed concern about advisers giving "insufficient attention" to the total cost of investment products and advice, which results in poor value for money.

Mr Percival said there was previously no rule structure that would allow the FCA to look at something like value for money, but he said Mifid II would allow it to ask advisers to show it how they have segmented their clients and what products they use for each segment.

Philip Deeks, technical director at compliance consultancy TCC, who also used to work in the FCA's financial advice team, said: "The product governance rules have brought more into focus the regulatory expectations in this area.