The Money Advice Service will struggle to establish a fair set of criteria for its retirement adviser directory, advisers have warned.
Last week, the MAS revealed it is looking to launch a retirement adviser directory to help boost referrals from its service to advisers.
Under the proposals, firms listed in the directory must be willing to advise on pension pots of any size. They must also have an “appropriate specialism”, for example, conducting a certain level of retirement planning business.
The MAS also suggests advisers should hold additional qualifications or have an accreditation to a relevant body.
Apfa director general Chris Hannant has hit out at the proposals, claiming the MAS is veering into “dangerous” territory by appearing to set standards beyond FCA requirements.
He says: “It is dangerous for the MAS to set itself up to judge which firms are fit to advise on certain areas. That is not its job. It is the FCA’s job and the MAS should not be going anywhere near that, especially when it expects to raise money from all advisers.
“If the MAS tries to be a regulator, not only will take-up of the directory be low but it will not be able to justify funding from the whole advice sector.”
Evolve Financial Planning director Jason Witcombe says: “Judging which advisers are specialists in a certain area is very subjective.
“The MAS could use purely qualifications-based criteria, for instance, but it is not its role to decide whether chartered status or other qualifications are the right benchmark. There is a serious risk that consumers would see this as a kitemark of competence, given that the MAS was set up by the Government.”
The MAS says the exact criteria for inclusion in the directory will be agreed by a panel, which would include industry and consumer representatives.
MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says: “The MAS is not seeking to set standards beyond FCA requirements. However, in order for consumers to be assured that advisers in the directory are truly retirement specialists, some sort of entry criteria must be established.”
Pete Matthew, managing director, Jacksons Wealth Management
It will be very difficult for the MAS to select a fair criteria. I cannot think of a way it could convincingly come up with an approved list of firms – if you base it on exams then that fails to take account of advisers’ experience.
Peter Chadborn, director, Plan Money
It is not healthy for the industry to criticise the MAS at such an early stage in its plans. Referrals from the MAS to advisers have clearly not worked well in the past. So if the MAS is trying something new and believes that specialisms is the way to engage consumers, then it is incumbent on advisers to work with the MAS to try and make this a success.