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Adviser calls for Gabriel reporting boycott as problems persist


Advisers are continuing to report serious problems when submitting their Gabriel reports to the FCA, with one firm calling for a boycott of part of the electronic system until the issues are resolved.  

Kingston Independent Financial Advisers company secretary Sam Caunt has written to the FCA several times raising problems with Gabriel’s retail mediation activities return section K, which covers adviser charging, but has yet to receive a response.

He says: “This boycott is coming from someone who is too scared to park on a double yellow, so to say we will not provide the FCA with information, well, you can tell how hacked off we are.”

“A client might ask us something which requires work from several members of staff at varying rates, say an adviser and a paraplanner, but we have to supply a representative hourly rate. We have to concoct it and provide a best guess,” he says.

Caunt worked with the Association of Professional Financial Advisers to raise the issue during a 2011 FSA consultation on Gabriel.

Apfa senior technical adviser Linda Smith says the association continues to collect evidence about problems with section K and will raise them with the FCA.

She says: “Firms that do not supply the information would face the consequences including fines so I am not sure we would go as far as supporting a boycott.”

Wealth and Tax Management financial planning director Tony Byrne says: “I can understand why people find this so frustrating and the FCA has to get involved and sort it out. Some of the questions are virtually impossible and you have to use your best judgement because you either comply or die. ”

An FCA spokesman says: We will be responding to this letter in due course. All authorised firms must complete and return their RMAR and, where firms have questions, we are always willing to assist.”


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There are 17 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Another distraction when we should be planning how best to spend time with our clients and sorting out their problems. IFAs now spend their time complying, reading about complying and planning for complying. What is this actually going to tell the FCA. Surely all they really need to know is whether we meet the minimum capital requirements. The methodology behind the figures on the Gabriel report is seriously flawed.

  2. Well done Sam !

    I wouldn’t just limit my concerns at just section “K” the whole thing is a nightmare and waste of money and resource.

    Again I think its telling from the response from the FCA spokesman ? what he is really saying is we will respond when we are ready, if at all. and you all have to complete this return if you don’t (well we all know the rest).

  3. A rubbish form and rubish process can be compensated for with rubbish data input.
    20000 forms with queries, errors and misinterpretations will soon focus the FCA’s attention to sort out.

  4. maybe the FCA think it is fair, like the lack of a longstop.

  5. Shows how totally out of touch they really are... 30th August 2013 at 9:56 am

    An FCA spokesman (why are they never named?? are they as afraid as we are are of actually putting their name to a statement )says…”where firms have questions, we are always willing to assist”
    Gobsmacking UTTER rubbish. I fell off my chair when I read that.
    I raised various RMAR issues with them dating back to January and they were singularly unhelpul. All they do is refer you to the documents youve already read and cant understand which is why youre ringing in the first place. Even when you get a written reply, it never actually answers a question directly but continuously refers you to this or that section of this or that unreadable, badly written, unjoined up handbook, discussion paper or bulletin.
    Whoever is in charge over there at different levels either has absolutely no idea of what is going on or DOES know and is happy with it – I dont know which is worse but in both cases it is a disgrace. Surely most of the actual people who work there are normal people – so why dont any of them whistle blow on the whole fiasco and/or come out in public after leaving??

  6. The whole of Gabriel is an utter disgrace. Any commercial organisation would be embarrassed by such a poorly written piece of software but not the FCA.

    Most of the information I give is a ‘best guess’ because, as Sam states, it is usually impossible to complete it accurately.

    The FCA should scrap it and carefully think about the minimum information they require to regulate effectively. Then get someone who actually knows how to program to write the software.

  7. I have written to FCA on the issue of having to account for adviser charge on an accruals basis rather than cash – which is how we account for everything else. They have agreed to look at it and a further response is awaited. But they did sound helpful and interested at first contact, which is a significant improvement on the stance their predecessors.

  8. Although I echo Sams sentiments, it cant make sense to boycott, that would only create confrontation when what should be happening is that we should all be working together.
    However, that immediately makes me realise that we cant work together if the FCA wont do that.
    I think it would therefore be a far better next step for somone (Money Mkting?) to ask/challenge the FCA to confirm whether they will or wont actually agree to engage constructively with the “advice” sector of the industry, via a representative body of business owners and advisers, the objectives being to improve the effectiveness (cost and time) of regulation to the industry and consumers, as well as improving overall consumer outcomes from the advice part of the sector. Surely these ought to be shared objectives?
    I think that working together to arrive at solutions would work far better then the current system, RMAR being an obvious example.
    So, can someone formally ask them if they will do this, in the interests of BETTER regulation, so that we can once and for all find out if its an option or not. At least we would then know where we stand.

  9. Good idea – Paul. Isn’t that what we have trade bodies for. Where are they in this debate? This is just the sort of practical issue they should be discussing with the FCA. Then if they don’t get further organise joint action. I am all for putting the boot into those who don’t play the game but frankly GABRIEL is nonsense. MY returns have never been questioned therefore I assume they are correct – in their eyes. Yet the resultant figure for the worth of my company is far from right and usually less than the reality.

  10. @ Paul Harding

    I note your point, and totally agree, however can you honestly see our trade bodies sticking up for us ?
    Re Linda Smith’s quote above ? basically she is saying, not to poke the wasps nest, that is the FCA

    We all know the FCA treat our trade bodies impudently and ignoring anything they say.

  11. When I looked at it recently I found it insisted on details of fixed fees – even if the firm had not conducted any business on that basis.

    It also insisted they put in a maximum figure – when anybody with any commercial acumen will realise this is entirely dependent on the amount of work anticipated, which cannot be known until the proposal is made.

  12. Instead of boycotting the return, we should all agree to submit exactly the same return details and see how long it takes for them to realise!
    If you do that Sam, I’ll submit the same as you. My year end is 31st March, so next return is due 6 weeks after the end of September, being the first including the new sections. Who else has theirs due then? Coordinating a work to rule needs all those with returns at the same time to do the same thing.
    I am not posting anon as I don’t do “be afraid, be very afraid” of the big bad wolf as I must have a Napoleon complex and tend to react to threats with counterattacks rather than submission UNLESS I am at fault in which case I am the first one to back down.
    Gabriel and RMAr have been a dogs breakfast since the first FSA return I did which I think was back in 2003.

  13. “This is an odd article and not one I can really relate to. GABRIEL and RMAR are hardly taxing or demanding and indeed I have just completed one in an afternoon in spite of distractions. So why grumble about these? Pointless and meaningless they may be, but hardly an issue to throw your bears out of the pram over”
    Sam, this is what you wrote on 21st august. under an article by Neil Liversidge, who was also complaining about the complexities of Gabriel.
    What changed in 9 days?
    You really cannot have it both ways.

  14. Don’t you just wish for a reasonably paid 9 ~ 5 job from which you could go home each evening without having to worry about what you’re going to find in your inbox the following morning, either from or instigated by a regulator whose over-arching mission in life, above all else and regardless of cost, seems, without either explanation, justification or accountability, to be to make those of others hell? I know I do.

  15. Before much longer, the FSA will start cancelling the authorisations of firms that, despite their best efforts and hours of trial and tribulation, just cannot get the GABRIEL system to accept the data they’ve input. What a great strategy on the part of the FSA:-

    1. create a system that’s impossible to navigate,

    2. publish “guidance” that provides nothing of the sort,

    3. claim to be “willing to assist” but, in practice, just refer to 2. above. Then, as usual,

    4. blame the entire mess on intermediaries and

    5. start shutting them down for “failing to deal with the regulator in an open and cooperative manner”.

    But, despite all of the above, the FSA claims not to have a prejudicial agenda against small intermediaries and denies that it’s “an aggressive regulator”. Methinks that all the evidence paints a very different picture.

  16. I think I finally understand why they need some of this information explained by David Godfrey, Acting Chief Operating Officer at FCA. “When looking at adviser fee blocks for the FSCS levy, the FSCS review found that product levies would be contrary to current legislative requirements and fail to capture contribution from firms in the intermediation classes in respect of their role in the advice and sales process. “
    Absurd. The law says we have to give figures even though we cannot. Therefore we have to guess it and so the error is possibly 100% – what idiot records figures with that error rate? Change the blooming legislative requirements to reflect reality!
    An example of absurdity. We do not intermediate (so we charge VAT) yet those VATable fees are intermediation and have to be allocated to an intermediation class! Errrr…
    We give advice. Where the client’s money comes from does not reflect the advice given or even where we have intermediated. So FCA, get you figures from the providers and we can provide you with case numbers.
    This is an abuse of power. Bullying. Re-introduce bullying in schools and prepare our kids for the real world!

  17. @Sam – Have you read David Godfrey’s CV?

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