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FSA focus on advice quality

Newcob will give advisers new freedom and responsibilities as prescriptive rules are cut away but the FSA says it will keep a close eye on the qual- ity of the outcome.

Speaking to Money Marketing on the release of the Newcob consultation, FSA director (retail policy and asset management sector) Dan Waters says the regime means the regulator will focus on the outcome of advisers’ decisions rather than how they get there.

But he said the FSA would not tolerate any reduction in the quality of advice just because the rulebook has been halved due to the removal of prescriptive requirements.

He said the sourcebook had become an unwieldy “list of things that had gone wrong in the industry” and the regulator could not continue on this route. He acknowledged there is a risk with the Newcob approach and said FSA super- visory staff will have to adapt the way they work as much as anyone else to take the new rules into account.

Waters said that a good example of the Newcob reg- ime is the suitability letter, which will be replaced with a less prescriptive suitability report with no requirement to document the “most suitable” requirement.

He said advisers will get more discretion over content but will have to keep in mind the high-level principle of treating customers fairly.

The consultation proposes to maintain the payment menu and initial disclosure document, through an article 4 justification, with the future of the menu determined in a post-implementation review in April 2008.

Waters admits that the menu has not been a success and said the regulator will look for a radical simplification of the document, echoing the views of trade bodies such as the ABI and Aifa.

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