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Platform frustrations and FCA grilling: the week in news

Platform frustrations and FCA grilling: the week in news

Headlines this week have read like an episode of Masterchef, from an alleged client poaching to grilling of the regulator by MPs. It’s time for the week in news.

1) Adviser outrage

An adviser was outraged to learn that Scottish Widows appeared to be trying to poach an IFA's client with a letter promoting the provider's own advisers.

Scott Gallacher, IFA and director of Rowley Turton Private Wealth Management, found out one of his clients received a letter from Scottish Widows suggesting the provider's "fully qualified and authorised financial advisers" could help him.

But a spokesman for Scottish Widows said the provider had always recommended that customers seek financial advice before making decisions on their finances.

The action, however, has left Mr Gallacher frustrated as it breaks the trust between adviser and provider.

2) FCA takes a grilling

MPs, fresh from voting on Brexit amendments, grilled the FCA on how a firm was able to fake its authorisation, despite the regulator being made aware of its illegal activity elsewhere in Europe.

At an oral evidence session at the Treasury select committee on January 29 Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, questioned Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, on behalf of a constituent who lost £500,000 in the collapse of Premier FX.

3) Flip-flop for Fidelity

Advisers have voiced concerns as to the level of service provided by Fidelity FundsNetwork, with many moving clients away from the platform.

Fidelity currently operates a system of two separate sites on its platform, one 'classic' and one 'enhanced'. 

Alan Parkinson, managing director at CPD Independent Financial Advisers, said this system has created an "unfathomable" situation for advisers, who must "flip-flop" between the two sites in order to manage a client's portfolio.

The firm defended the platform, claiming issues advisers face are minor and it is in the final stages of completing a major upgrade.

4) The ghost of Christmas past

In a flashback to the festive period, and in keeping with the wintery weather, the regulator has been told to clarify Mifid II reporting requirements after market activity over Christmas could have caused panic among investors.

Over the Christmas holidays Philip Milton, who runs PJ Milton and Co, an advice firm in Devon, had the experience of having to inform clients their portfolios had dropped 10 per cent, a requirement of the Mifid II rules.

Mr Milton said he struggles to see what benefit it was to the client of them having to be told their portfolios were down 10 per cent just as they were looking forward to tucking into their turkey.

When asked would the FCA clarify how adviser and platforms should notify clients of a 10 per cent drop in the value of their portfolios, a spokesman for the regulator declined to comment. 

The regulator's guidance makes clear that a client must be informed of the 10 per cent drop on the next business day after it happens, even if on the next business day the market rises by the same amount or more than the previous day's fall.