New IFA group to focus on ethics and trust

New IFA group to focus on ethics and trust

The Transparency Task Force is creating five new groups to improve trust and fairness in financial services, including one for the financial advice community.

According to Andy Agathangelou, founding chairman of the TTF, more needs to be done to prove the value and worth of financial planners in the eye of the consumer, as well as to iron out any of the potential issues around topics such as fee transparency.

He told FTAdviser: "We are creating five new teams, and one of them will be focused on the financial advice community. We want to encourage people to join who are ethically minded, genuinely pro-transparency and who are prepared to look closely at how the financial planning sector works. 

Article continues after advert

"We want to assess what works well now, what doesn't work so well, and how we can make it operate in a more client-centric way, particularly in those areas where there is still too much opacity, such as fees and charges disclosure."

He said the way the fee structure is currently disclosed by different firms can present a barrier to some potential clients, with some advisers being open and displaying full charges on their website, and others opting only to discuss fees once they have had an initial meeting with clients.

He said the reason behind setting up TTF in the first place was to gather together people who had a "collective interest in repairing the reputational damage of recent decades".

The organisation, which was set up in May 2015, has therefore created a "collaborative community" across the financial services market to help restore trust and transparency. It now has more than 350 members in different teams, such as pensions and asset management.

Mr Agathangelou said the financial advice team, which is to be set up in the next three weeks, would have the freedom and scope to define what its objectives are, and what it wants to achieve. The idea is each team will meet once a quarter to go over the findings and assess proposals to improve trust and transparency.

The other four new teams will cover communications, defined benefit and defined contribution pensions, financial technology, and compliance and investment consultants. 

The latter group is particularly timely, given the Competition and Markets Authority recently issued an updated study on how investment consultants work with pension schemes. The paper was titled Working paper: Market outcomes: updated results, and came out on October 25. 

In the paper, the CMA reiterated its view that pension schemes that have an existing relationship with an investment consultant are more likely to get a raw deal if they use the same firm’s fiduciary management service without going through a formal tender process.

The CMA also found "higher quality" investment consultant firms typically had lower market shares than "lower quality" investment firms, and that this effect had persisted over time.