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ABI wants easier route for simplified advice

The Association of British Insurers and Personal Finance Society say there should be lower qualification requirements for limited advice.

The PFS says those involved in a streamlined process with a product range restricted by definition or product regulation could operate with level three qualifications. It says all advisers authorised to give investment advice, whether independent or restricted, should be qualified to QCF level four.

The ABI wants lower qualification requirements for advisers offering simplified advice and clear guidance from the FSA and the Financial Ombudsman Services about how they view the limits and liabilities of the service. It says the RDR reforms could restrict consumer access to advice and simplified advice processes need to be developed to meet the needs of people who are unable to afford or do not require full advice.

It says: “Current FSA proposals would prevent these processes being delivered at an affordable price.”

PFS chief executive Fay Goddard says: “We are happy for advisers to be qualified to QCF level three if they are restricted in what they can sell. There could be some form of product regulation, ringfenced products sold in a certain way or an extension of the stakeholder product regime. But if there are no restrictions on what bank advisers can sell they must be qualified to QCF level four.”

The PFS calls for advisers offering basic advice to have at least a level three qualification. Goddard says: “The anomaly with basic advice is it is believed these products cannot be detrimental to the consumer, so there is no minimum qualification requirement. That needs to change.”

Institute of Financial Planning director and chartered and certified financial planner Marlene Shalton says bank advisers do not need to be qualified to the same level as IFAs.

She says: “I cannot see the point in making people get the QCF level four qualification unless they are giving independent advice. If bank advisers are giving restricted advice they should not have to get the same qualification as IFAs.”

But Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “The last thing we need as an industry is the bancassurers being advantaged over the sector that is responsible for the best advice and lowest complaint figures.”

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