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Directories seek FCA help on adviser data

“But we make it very clear to advisers that they are bound to our terms and conditions to change their information,” she said, pointing out Unbiased has the right to remove or suspend a listing if it suspects data might be incorrect while it investigates further.

The FCA declined to comment.

Stuart Anderson, head of marketing and communications at Clarion Wealth Planning, said: "It does seem that if the FCA polices whether or not firms are independent it should be possible for it to confirm who is and who isn’t.

"Of course, the FCA isn’t there to make directories’ lives easier, but the fact that it doesn’t refer to a firm’s independence or otherwise on its own public register also seems counter-intuitive, given the emphasis it placed on proving independence during the Retail Distribution Review."

Mr Anderson said the vast majority of cases probably involve out-of-date information, rather than deliberate misrepresentation, and suggested directories could "sweep up" most of the errors by emailing listed firms to ask if any information has changed. 

"If listings were suspended for non-repliers, they would soon get the information in."

But he added: “I do think the ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the information it contains has to lie with the directory – I certainly think that the members of the public who use it would see it that way.”

Tony Catt, compliance consultant at TC Compliance, said it would be helpful if information on being independent or restricted was available.

He said it was for consumers to decide about the relevant benefits of each status according to their needs and objectives.

Mr Catt added however: "It is really only industry insiders that make the distinction between the two."