The industry has welcomed the latest shake up of the Financial Conduct Authority’s register but has stopped short of saying the regulator's work on the list is complete.
Launched earlier this month (December 14), the updated FCA industry register now includes details regarding professional memberships — such as the Chartered Insurance Institute or the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment — and affiliation of individuals.
Advisers and professional bodies have welcomed the move, saying it allows consumers to more easily conduct due diligence on their choice of financial adviser.
CEO of the CISI, Simon Culhane, said: “This is a very positive step for consumers who can now easily see and choose a chartered professional to provide them with financial advice.
“We encourage all members of professional bodies to ensure their details are accurate on the new register.”
Meanwhile Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, part of the CII, said it was a “logical move” by the FCA to include details of the memberships as it provided consumers with access to details of the adviser's full qualifications and areas of specialism.
He said: “The easier it is for consumers to conduct relevant due diligence when seeking the services of a qualified regulated adviser, the greater confidence the public will have in accessing professional advice services and help to combat the increasing risk of scammers.”
Mr Richards added that the decision to include professional memberships also established a direct link between advisers and “qualified professionals”.
Martin Bamford, head of client education at Informed Choice, agreed that providing “any useful information” to a consumer as they carry out their due diligence before selecting an adviser was a “positive move”.
But he aired concerns that the average person would not know what to look for when reviewing the FCA register, so a programme of education was needed alongside these changes.
He added: “Membership of an accredited professional body, along with holding a valid statement of professional standing, is just one element consumers should consider before engaging with an IFA.
“I would love to see it become common practice for people to carry out due diligence around regulatory status, qualifications, financial strength and other considerations before entrusting an adviser with their money.”
Alistair Cunningham, chartered financial planner at Wingate Financial Planning, agreed the regulator still had work to do in order to make the register easier to understand.
He said: “I wonder how much a layperson can understand, for example on the differences between ‘giving personal recommendations on retail investment products which are not broker funds’ and ‘pension transfer specialist’.”
Mr Cunningham also thought there was an “awful lot of other information” that was of little relevance to making an informed choice on which firm to seek advice from.
The FCA revamped its register in July promising a "simpler design and clearer language" in a bid to protect consumers.
Under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, firms are required to submit data to be published as part of a directory of certified and assessed persons on the register.