FSA set to probe restricted advice panels

The FSA is set to probe the way distributors compile their restricted advice panels in the lead-up to the RDR, Money Marketing understands.

It is understood the FSA has been in regular contact with firms on the issue and may conduct a thematic review to ensure its guidelines are being followed.
Tenet distribution and development director Keith Richards says a number of networks are charging for a place on their restricted panels.

He says: “Tenet does not take money from providers although there are a few in the market that do. Tenet is unlikely to charge providers to be part of a panel but it is possible that commercial considerations will be discussed which may translate into lower charges for the client.”

Openwork proposition and marketing director Philip Martin says: “We do not charge providers to be on a panel. We will naturally wish to engage with providers that do sit on the panel to develop joint marketing initiatives but there is no charge to appear.”

Intrinsic and Origen say they do not charge providers to be on any panels. Honister Capital says it does not currently operate any restricted panels.

Sesame, Lighthouse, Paradigm and Positive Solutions declined to comment.

In November, Money Marketing revealed product providers were paying significant sums to distributors as part of long-term distribution deals arranged ahead of the RDR. An email seen by Money Marketing outlined details of a £2m payment from Aegon to Caerus for “sales and marketing activity to support our partnership”, although Aegon suggested this figure did not represent the final deal.

Quainton Hills Financial Planning director Gordon Bowden says: “This is something that seems to be against the spirit of the RDR. I do not see any difference between these kind of payments and commission.”

The FSA declined to comment.