Your IndustryJun 7 2018

Five things we learnt about advisers from FCA's data

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Five things we learnt about advisers from FCA's data

The Financial Conduct Authority published a data bulletin based on the information it gathered from advisers through their Retail Mediation Activities Return today (7 June).

Here are the five key takeaways about the state of the advice industry today from the regulator's 20-page document.

1) Independence still popular

Despite talk about the growth of restricted advice, it only accounts for 14 per cent of firms, with independent advice accounting for 84 per cent.

But restricted firms are generating 40 per cent of adviser charges, which indicates that while restricted firms are few and far between, they are disproportionately large.

The data showed the proportion of revenues from restricted advice charges increased to 40 per cent in 2017, up from 39 per cent the previous year.

Independence is more popular among financial advisers - when data from mortgage brokers and insurance intermediaries is stripped out - with only 11 per cent of these firms restricted.

2) How do advisers get paid?

Facilitated payments are the main way advisers get paid for their work, and they are becoming more popular.

In 2017 they accounted for 83 per cent of adviser charges, compared with 79 per cent the year before and 77 per cent in 2015.

Most firms charge as a percentage of the investment, with 4,067 using this for the initial charge and 4,283 using this for the ongoing charge.

Fixed fees are the second most popular way of being paid, with 1,931 firms using this for the initial charge and 1,144 using this for the ongoing charge - though fees by the hour are also popular.

Average charges as a percentage of investment value for initial advice reported by firms are between 1 per cent and 3 per cent. For ongoing charges, the average rates are between 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent. These have remained unchanged from previous years.

The proportion of retail investment revenue earned from commission continued to fall, from 26 per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent in 2017.

3) Revenues and profits are going up

Financial advice firms saw their total earnings increase by 22 per cent to £4.5bn in 2017.

Meanwhile aggregate pre-tax profits increased by 23 per cent to £698m and overall, 96 per cent of financial adviser firms made a profit on ordinary activities before tax for 2017.

Small firms were proportionally more profitable than larger ones. Those with one adviser showed the highest profit margin with an average pre-tax profit of 43 per cent, but this may reflect the likelihood that sole traders pay themselves out of profits rather than as salary.