The FSA is to embark on a second round of research into the Sandler sales process, saying a flawed interview process meant that its initial research has proved inconclusive.
The regulator says the research published this week shows that recommendations made by non-FPC advisers to the 502 consumers taking part in the project generally matched those by regulated financial advisers who were forwarded the client details.
But it also showed a number of weaknesses on the part of the filtered-question administrators, particularly when recommending a pension or an equity product to consumers.
The FSA says it cannot decide whether there is enough merit in the simple sales approach to go ahead with it but believes there is enough potential to justify a second round of research, which it hopes to complete by the end of April.
Eighty per cent of those who took part in the interviews, which took an average of 22 minutes, were given a recommendation by their adviser which was then endorsed by an FPC-qualified adviser.
But only 38 of the 151 who said they were looking to save for retirement were told to buy a stakeholder pension. Despite only 109 saying they were taking a medium to long-term outlook and were prepared to take on a degree of risk, 191 were advised to invest in equities.
Financial Services Consumer Panel chairwoman Ann Foster says: “We believe that the FSA research published today raises questions as to whether there would be adequate consumer protection with the proposed filtered questions approach.”
FSA head of retail projects David Severn says: “The results do not say without hesitation that this is the process but they also do not say this is dreadful and we are going to abandon it.”