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Advice Catmark back on agenda

Catmarked advice is back on the agenda for the post-polarisation world, operating alongside a generic financial health-check and potentially a free- phone service offering advice, according to the Treasury.

A Treasury spokesman confirms a Cat standard for advice is still likely to be implemen-ted following the FSA&#39s chan-ges to polarisation.

The voluntary standard would stand for charges, access and terms as it does for mortgages, which would mean advisers wanting to take part would be limited in what they could charge consumers.

The spokesman says: “A Catmark for advice would have an obvious attraction. It has cleared a number of hurdles. Nothing has come along to derail it at the moment. We see Catmarks for advice in the post-polarisation world.”

Aifa director general Paul Smee says: “Catmarked financial advice will suit Catmarked investors. Anything that looks to extend advice has to be looked at. We wait to see what is in the details.”

The FSA will not say how its own proposals for two-tier advice would interact with a Catmark.

The Treasury says Ron Sandler&#39s review will not deal with micro issues such as Cat standards for advice but instead will concentrate on bigger issues.

A generic financial health-check is also still on the agenda. The Treasury feels this would appeal to people who are unwilling to pay for or cannot afford full financial advice.

Another idea being considered is phone-based free financial advice, which would provide everything but productspecific advice. The spokes-man says this is still in the early stages. If it were to go ahead, it may get some degree of funding from the Treasury.

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