Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA still exploring 'better targeted' advice services

FCA still exploring 'better targeted' advice services

The regulator is still exploring new forms of advice as part of its consumer investments strategy, it has confirmed. 

Last year plans were mooted to introduce “straight forward, one-off or focused advice” - potentially on a pay-as-you-go basis - but they appeared to have been shelved after last week's strategy paper made no mention of advice, focusing on guidance instead.

But the Financial Conduct Authority has since confirmed it is still considering advice as well as guidance to target consumers with big cash savings but high tolerance to risk.

The regulator said it had simply chosen to focus on guidance in last week's paper because this was an area it received a lot of feedback on.

It told FTAdviser: “We want consumers to be able to access and identify investments that suit their circumstances and attitude to risk.

"Our finalised strategy was informed by the responses we received in our call for input in September 2020. That showed that many firms wanted to do more to help consumers invest in products which were right for them, but they had concerns about inadvertently crossing the boundary between guidance and advice.

“We are exploring how we can make regulatory changes to make it easier for firms to provide more help to consumers who want to invest in relatively straightforward products. This may be through delivering guidance that provides more tailored support or through better targeted advice services.”

In its call for input last September, which formed the basis of last week's consumer investments strategy, the Financial Conduct Authority mooted a pay as you go advice option for consumers who would need an adviser to consider their relevant personal circumstances, but not necessarily an ongoing relationship with an adviser.

The aim was to get more consumers out of cash and to invest their money in straightforward products such as Isas and tracker funds instead.

In last week's consumer investments strategy the regulator said it was looking at ways to change its rules so firms would find it easier to provide guidance to these customers.

The FCA found 8.6m consumers are holding more than £10,000 of investible assets in cash despite having higher risk tolerances. It wants to drive this number down by a fifth come 2025.

The regulator is exploring ways to tweak both legislation and regulation to give firms more freedom to support their clients.