The FCA has agreed to meet the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales to discuss growing concerns over the regulator’s guidance on independent advice and referrals, Money Marketing understands.
In a thematic review published in March, the FCA said advisers cannot call themselves independent where they refer cases to specialists, whether internal or external. The only exception is where they are referring cases related to occupational pension transfers and long-term care.
In June, Money Marketing revealed advisers were being told to ignore the guidance as experts warned the FCA had interpreted its own rules incorrectly by applying them to individuals and not firms.
4 Pump Court barrister Peter Hamilton said: “The guidance is frankly wrong. The FCA said it was produced in response to requests for further clarity but unfortunately the FCA seems to have misunderstood its own rule and has caused confusion.”
Trade and professional bodies raised concerns the guidance would prevent advisers from specialising and lead to poorer consumer outcomes.
The ICAEW said it had lobbied the regulator and invited it to a seminar on the subject but with little response.
An FCA spokeswoman says FCA technical specialist Rory Percival has agreed to speak at an ICAEW event in the coming months although the agenda has yet to be confirmed.
The ICAEW declined to comment.
Minutes of the FCA’s June board meeting, published last week, revealed its smaller business practitioner panel had raised “continued concern” about the definition and interpretation of independence regarding referrals.