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Early decision on PSB

The financial services industry has welcomed the FSA’s decision to accelerate consultation on the Professional Standards Board, which could see it gain statutory powers three years earlier than planned.

In last week’s retail distribution review consultation paper, the FSA outlined details of the PSB which will set and implement higher standards in areas, including qualifications, ethics and continuing professional development. The decision on whether the PSB should be set up as a separate statutory entity independent of the FSA will be speeded up rather than having an interim solution of a PSB as part of the FSA.

The paper says: “This brings the decision forward to mid 2010 and allows final implementation by 2012 where we originally anticipated a decision on this around 2015. This will maintain momentum in progressing development of the new standards.”

Aegon head of corporate affairs Francis McGee welcomes the news as he supports the idea of a PSB. He says: “Let us have the discussion and get on with it.”

The FSA put forward a possible draft code of ethics for advisers which could form part of its handbook, depending on the outcome of the PSB consultation. This is likely to be published for consumers as a statement of standards they can expect from advisers.

Latest RDR proposals state that firms offering restricted advice, with the exception of the basic advice category, will have to obtain QCF level-four qualifications along with fully independent advisers.

The Association of British Insurers is concerned that those offering simplified advice will have to reach this benchmark. Director of life and savings Maggie Craig says: “We have serious concerns that this will make it economically unrealistic to offer straightforward and transparent sales for those who want affordable access to simple products.”

Nexus IFA managing director Kerry Nelson says: “We want the perception of IFAs to change. We are only going to see that if something is put in place to enforce the issue, so this is very positive.”

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