Adding the ability to search for a financial adviser to the FCA Register has cost the regulator at least £200,000, new figures reveal.
The regulator added the option for consumers to “find an advice firm near me” to its register of regulated firms in September.
A Freedom of Information Request from adviser marketing firm The Yardstick Agency confirms that while the FCA Register has been available to search by postcode for a number of years, the “find me an adviser” function went live on 24 September 2018.
The new functionality is still in a test phase, or “beta”, which is not yet complete, and “feedback from users of the new facility is invited and it will be amended as appropriate as a result,” the FCA says.
The FCA says it has not changed or taken away any other Register functionality and, as at the time of responding to the FOIA request last week, it had spent £200,000 on the additional facility to search for advisers.
Yardstick Agency director Phil Bray says: “The FCA Register should be a useful tool for connecting financial advisers and planners with consumers. The addition of a search function must, at least on the face of it, therefore be welcomed. However, the £200,000 cost feels expensive, and that’s only the cost to date, there will no doubt be further revisions and changes as the FCA improves the search function based on feedback.”
The FCA Register has taken on increased importance in recent months as the regulator has received criticism for failing to list warnings about firms involved in recent scandals such as pension transfers prominently enough, and failing to update inaccuracies quickly enough.
I still can’t get my head around the cost of this making this change. Seems astonishingly high. https://t.co/l2JawmTSWp
— Phillip Bray (@philbray73) October 26, 2018
There have also been concerns raised about regulated individuals potentially dropping off the Register, as the FCA initially planned to only list those with senior manager responsibilities on the Register as part of the new Senior Managers and Certification Regime, and then have these individuals certify the appropriateness of the employees below them themselves.
The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment is calling on the FCA to add professional qualifications to the Register as well.