The FCA has issued additional guidance to advisers on the retail mediation activities return after admitting it has failed to give firms sufficient support.
Since 30 June, advisers have had to complete new sections K and L when completing RMAR returns, which requires firms to send the FCA additional information on initial and ongoing advice charges, whether advice is independent or restricted, and how advice is paid for.
Money Marketing revealed in September adviser trade bodies were pushing for an urgent review of the RMAR after firms raised repeated concerns over the amount of work involved.
Today the FCA has issued a technical note on section K of the RMAR which aims to provide further clarity on a number of issues, such as whether charges for initial and ongoing advice should be reported separately, and how trail commission which is offset against an adviser charge should be reported.
Speaking to Money Marketing, FCA head of savings, investments and distribution David Geale says: “With the benefit of hindsight, the RMAR has not been as easy for firms as we anticipated.
“We were getting a lot of questions from firms struggling to understand exactly what we wanted them to do.
“Firms struggled a little bit with some of the language we used. We recognise we hadn’t given enough support on this, and we have acted quickly to correct it.”
The FCA is also looking at allowing firms who report to HMRC on a cash basis rather than an accruals basis to report to the FCA on a cash basis.
Geale says the regulator is looking at this “closely” and hopes to be able to say more after Christmas. While he could not say how many firms it would affect, he says the change would generally affect smaller firms.
Geale says the regulator has listened to advisers on the RMAR and has approached the issue differently to how its predecessor, the FSA, would have done.
He says: “One of the things we’ve done differently to the FSA is we have spoken to the industry about this. We have spoken to a number of trade bodies about the guidance and they have welcomed it.”
He adds: “We need data to do our job. It provides the foundations for supervision and helps us stop bad practice and prevent consumer detriment.
”There are strong reasons why we need data, but against that we are conscious that we ask firms to report a lot of data and that can be a burden for them.”
The FCA plans to formally consult next year on incorporating the contents of the new guidance into its handbook.