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Which? finds more evidence of advisers misleading public

Which? finds more evidence of advisers misleading public

Some advisers are claiming to hold accreditations they do not actually have, according to Which? research.

The consumer rights website has researched entries on the Money Advice Service’s Retirement Adviser Directory.

For three of the five credentials Which? looked at – Later Life Academy, ISO 22222 and Certified – less than half the advisers claiming to hold them were on the official list of that credential’s official provider.

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Meanwhile a third of advises claiming to hold a Society of Later Life Advisers qualification were unrecognised.

Advisers claiming to hold Later Life Academy credentials were the most likely to be unrecognised by the body awarding it, with 85 per cent not on the official list.

During the investigation Mas pulled all ISO 22222 listings from its website after a complaint from Standards International.

The findings follow similar research carried out by Which? earlier this year into the Unbiased listings, which found the same issue.

This research, in February 2016, found that more than half of advisers on Unbiased claiming to have accreditations did not actually have them.

For its latest research into Mas, Which? used three postcodes – from London, Sheffield and Edinburgh – to compile a database of 240 advisers who were listed as possessing at least one of the following accreditations in addition to those required by the Financial Conduct Authority: Chartered, Certified, ISO 22222, Later Life Academy and Society of Later Life Advisers.

It then asked the providers of these certifications to compare its findings to their official lists.

The certification least likely to be unrecognised was Chartered, with only 11 per cent of advisers not on the Personal Finance Society's official list.

Which? said: "When we asked the providers about our findings, they told us that in some cases the adviser’s qualification had lapsed, while in others advisers were in the process of attaining the qualification but had not yet completed the requirements.

"The MAS told us it had been in the process of carrying out an audit of adviser details.

"It said that the discrepancies it had discovered so far were apparently due to technical or administrative errors – and that it had not found evidence of firms deliberately falsifying information."

Earlier this year then-Chancellor George Osborne announced that Mas would be scrapped from 2018 and replaced by a smaller body to provide "frontline" services to those in financial need.