Financial Conduct Authority  

Adviser complains to FCA over ‘threatening’ surveys

Adviser complains to FCA over ‘threatening’ surveys
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

An adviser has officially complained to the Financial Conduct Authority over what he has termed its “threatening” and “stress[ful]” financial resilience survey.

The City regulator has issued seven iterations of the survey following the pandemic, having revamped the latest version in a bid to bring the focus away from Covid-19 and make it easier for advisers to fill out.

Despite the regulator’s efforts to streamline the survey, financial adviser at PM Independent Financial Services, Peter Meadway, filed a complaint a day after the latest one was sent.

The complaint, seen by FTAdviser, argues sole traders are “busy trying to look after clients” - particularly those in retirement - and that all the FCA is doing “is making it more difficult” by repeatedly sending out the survey.

“These surveys are a waste of time…You seem to carry on without the consideration of the financial adviser,” Meadway told the FCA in his complaint.

“Consideration should be given to our time. By all means conduct a survey, but not four times a year. It's unnecessary.

“The FCA keeps putting pressure on my firm, requiring survey after survey. This is causing a lot of stress when trying to run my business.

“Your continual threatening requests are one sided and I have had enough.”

A spokesperson from the FCA argued the importance of sending such surveys so it has an up-to-date picture of firms’ financial resilience – particularly given the impact of current economic conditions.

“We do expect firms to complete the survey - we have simplified the format to make this easier,” they said.

On May 30, the regulator sent a revamped version, changing the name from ‘Covid-19 Impact Survey’ to ‘Financial Resilience Survey’.

FTAdviser understands the regulator changed the layout of the form in response to feedback from advice firms.

The survey, which the regulator anticipates issuing again in the future, must be completed within 15 working days of receipt of the survey.

In his complaint, Meadway requested a 15-day extension, saying he was away from the middle of June and unable to complete the survey in the allotted time.

In an email to FTAdviser, Meadway added: “I just think it’s about time we started to stand up against the regulator continually making rules of rules. 

“It takes away our time and in fact hinders us from helping consumers. The FCA has the necessary information regarding firms’ [RMAR] reporting twice a year, and I would hope Covid-19 is behind us now and that Covid-19 surveys are no longer fit for purpose.”

Adviser at Solomon's Financial Planning, Dominic Thomas, told FTAdviser earlier this week he was sceptical as to the real reason the FCA was sending the survey.

"Is this really about the viability of firms or their ability to continue to pay regulatory fees, based on turnover? In any event, it's all short-term thinking."