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Comment of the week: Proving your independence

The FCA can do no more than apply its own rules. The rule in question is Cobs 6.2A.3 and is about how a firm (and not an individual adviser within that firm) can present itself to clients.

The firm can say to retail clients that it is independent if the advice it offers on RIPs meets two conditions: it is “a) based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the relevant market; and (b) unbiased and unrestricted.”

The test, therefore, is not, as the FCA seems to be saying, based on who does what but on the quality of the advice as delivered to the client. Does the advice as delivered satisfy the rule? The matter should be viewed from the client’s point of view: did he or she receive advice based on a comprehensive view of the relevant market and which is unbiased and unrestricted? 

In my view, the firm can describe itself as providing independent advice if it meets that test, regardless of whether the individual advisers who put the advice together could individually claim to be qualified to do so on their own.

That said, I suppose that the individual who actually sits down with the client to deliver the advice must be sufficiently qualified and experienced to know that that advice was properly independent and, equally important, suitable under Cobs.

Peter Hamilton


Martin Wheatley

FCA sets budget at £446m; advisers to pay third of costs

The FCA has set its 2014/15 annual budget at £446.4m, with almost a third of the costs falling on advisers. The budget represents a 3 per cent increase from 2013/14’s £432.1m. In its business plan, published this week, the FCA says there is a £10m underspend from last year’s budget which will be offset against […]


Partnership recruits defined benefit solutions director

Specialist insurer Partnership has hired Costas Yiasoumi as director of defined benefit solutions. Yiasoumi, whose background is in corporate pensions de-risking, will lead development of the firm’s bulk annuity proposition. He has previously held senior roles at Swiss Re, JP Morgan Chase and Mercer. Partnership managing director of retirement Andrew Megson says: “Partnership was the […]


Adviser fees fall 19% after FCA fee-block reform

Advisers will see FCA fees fall next year as a result of changes to regulatory fee blocks for firms that hold client money. Many advisers currently fall into the A13 fee block, which relates to advisers who do not hold client money. A separate fee block, A12, exists for advisers, dealers and brokers who hold […]


Robert Reid: A month of reckoning for pension providers

Never mind the day of reckoning; is this not the month of reckoning for life and pension providers? This month has seen the Budget pensions income changes, followed by the DWP’s pension charge cap and, finally, news of the FCA’s planned attack on backbook cross-subsidies. The Budget delivered a genuine boost to pensions, in particular, […]

Reforming India: just the beginning

By Kunal Desai, Neptune India Fund

As global investors continue to scour emerging markets through the lens of reform potential, India shines bright. Indeed, we think it can sparkle even brighter. We anticipate India’s self-imposed 10-year ‘policy holiday’ to turn into one of the most pro-growth and pro-investment policy calendars seen in Asia in years. The Indian electorate has engineered a historic verdict. We now have the strongest Indian government since 1984, with the pro-market Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieving an absolute majority for the first time in the party’s history.


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