FCA to quiz top 20 advice firms about ongoing fees


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FCA to quiz top 20 advice firms about ongoing fees

The FCA is to quiz the 20 biggest advice firms about their ongoing advice fees and how they are monitoring implementation of the Consumer Duty.

The survey follows concerns flagged up by the FCA that some advice firms were not adequately considering the “relevance, nature and costs” of ongoing services for all their clients.

One key area of interest for the regulator will be how the larger firms manage ongoing advice fees after initial advice has been given and whether the advice is necessary and relevant.

The watchdog will also ask firms how they assess their ongoing services in response to the introduction of the Consumer Duty and whether they have made any changes as a result.

The FCA will also asks for data on the number of clients due a review of the ongoing suitability of the advice they have received as part of the service. It will also look at how many received that review and how many paid for ongoing advice but whose fee was refunded as the suitability review did not happen.

The regulator says it is collecting this information to assess, “what, if any, further regulatory work” it may need to undertake in this area. The FCA expects to provide a further update after reviewing firms’ responses.

The FCA said: “Around 20 of the largest advice firms are receiving the survey so the widest possible understanding of market practice is achieved. Their selection is not based on any particular concerns with those firms.”

In a letter sent in December 2022 the watchdog said it would undertake some cross-firm work in this area. At the time it set out its concerns that advice firms were not adequately considering the relevance, nature and costs of these ongoing services for all their clients. There is a concern that some firms may be charging for ongoing advice but not providing it or not providing sufficient advice for the fees charged.

An FCA letter sent in January 2023 explained how advice firms should approach the Consumer Duty, reminding firms that it requires them to act in good faith towards customers, avoid causing them foreseeable harm and enable and support them to pursue their financial objectives.

In a Consumer Duty webinar with firms in December 2023, the FCA flagged concerns that it appeared some consumers may be paying for a service, such as an annual review, but were not receiving it.

The FCA said the “data gathering” announced today on ongoing services forms part of its work to raise standards so people can invest with confidence. Central to that strategy is ensuring people can access advice if they want it and have trust in the services on offer, it said.

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