Apfa has been accused of “giving up” on its campaign for a 15-year long-stop on complaints against financial advisers by considering alternative ways to stem liabilities.
The trade body is in ongoing discussions with the regulator after the FCA said in March 2014 it would consider the case for a 15-year long stop on complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
But this week Apfa launched an online poll seeking advisers’ views on four different options to stem liabilities.
The options are: a 15-year time limit from the date of the event; a 15-year time limit from the end of ongoing advice; limiting liability according to the nature of the product, with pensions subject to a 25-year limit; and a centrally-funded professional indemnity policy.
Money Marketing understands Apfa has also looked at a further three options as part of its discussions with the regulator, including an agreed liability time limit between the client and adviser.
Highclere Financial Services partner and Apfa member Alan Lakey, who is working on the trade body’s long-stop campaign, says: “If you’re negotiating with someone and you start considering other options, it is like you’re giving up and anticipating defeat. It suggests Apfa is looking for damage limitation so it can claim some form of victory.
“Some of the other options are not workable and some are totally stupid. Advisers need the protection of the law like other professions. There can be no watering it down – as soon as we start doing that we have lost.”
Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says: “We have got to stick to our principles because otherwise we weaken the argument.
“We are the only profession without a long-stop and if we take any of the other options we still wouldn’t have parity, which is what we have been arguing for in the first place. We should not be creating a middle ground.”
Apfa director general Chris Hannant says: “We launched our Fair Liability for Advice campaign in 2012, which has always considered a number of different options to gain fair liability for advisers.
“We have always been conscious of the fact that while most advisers would prefer a straight 15-year long-stop, the FCA has consumer protection objectives and anything it put in place would have to meet those objectives.
“The core question the FCA has been interested in is whether there is a case for some sort of limit, and the second question is how would that limit work.”