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FSA rolls out assessment programme for small firms

The FSA is rolling out a programme of workshops and follow-up visits later this year as part of its supervision of small firms.

The regulator’s ‘small firms regional assessment programme’ will follow a similar format to its treating customers fairly initiative which included roadshows, assessments and follow-up visits.

It follows a pilot with 55 firms earlier this year. The regional assessment programme will feature half-day workshops rather than roadshows, starting in the North West in November.

The workshops will focus on issues such as firms’ systems and controls, including how risks to the business and clients are identified, adequate business controls, and how good business practices tie in with good regulatory practice.

They will also focus on firms’ progress with implementing the RDR. Speaking at a Personal Finance Society RDR seminar last week, FSA head of investment intermediaries Linda Woodall said the regulator planned one-to-one sessions with small firms to discuss their RDR-readiness. Supervisors will give feedback on advisers’ business models and check whether they have met the necessary requirements.

The workshops will be followed by ‘regulatory reviews’ which are likely to start in February next year. The regulatory reviews will pick up  on any issues that came out at the workshops, and will either be in the form of one-to-one surgery sessions or telephone interviews.

An FSA spokeswoman says: “This is a way of us going about supervising small businesses. The one aspect that was successful with the TCF roadshows was the fact that small firms get face to face contact with the FSA. That is why we are taking forward that same model. It is much broader than TCF. It is about giving small firms time with the FSA.”


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There are 24 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. What a complete waste of time. The TCF roadshow was run in the same way and we are STILL waiting for our feedback following our meeting with the FSA. Lets just waste more of our time trying to stich up the small firms. Why not spend your time at the top of the ladder sorting out the big fish.

  2. I see, so being told what to do and how to do it by the failed FSA is going to make things better? Yeah. Right.

    For the avoidance of doubt none of us IFAs precipitated the failure of a dozen retail banks and plunged the UK into massive debt, did we now?

  3. Dick – because we are easy pickings!

  4. There are a lot of employees at the FSA, they have to be found something to do. Nobody understands Banks and how they work so it falls to the small IFA to provide something to justify their existance. Is there no one who can regulate the regulators?

  5. Who is doing an assessment of the FSA……………………………

  6. FFS just leave us alone for 10 minutes

  7. I could approach this in a positive or negative way. Today I will approach it in a positive way.
    As an open hobnest and transparent regulator, I take it the FSA will be happy to participate in any review they have with me in a 360 degree review so that we spend as much time discussing how they can improve and learn from us as vice versa!
    – Thought not, better come back from cloud cuckoo land….

  8. As a compliance consultant to small firms I have found their TCF iniative to be pathetic, and yet, with a bit of back-slapping the dear old FSA consider they’ve done a great job, and consider it justifiable to waste more of the IFA’s time. What planet are they on?

  9. We have come such a long way under a succession of Regulators that we must now put up with people who have no experience in doing the job, telling is how to do ours and if we don’t do it their way they will de- authorise us and this seems normal.
    We have no alternative but to tremble and bite our tongues. As Phil Castle opines: the FSA work on teh bais that they have nothing to learn from us and if a firm happens to do something for its clients in a way that suits its clients but doesn’t suit the inspector from the Regulator guess who wins

  10. We are IFAs and proffessional. How dare they regulate us

  11. Neil F Liversidge 17th October 2011 at 5:09 pm

    This is starting to feel like working for one of those big insurance companies where you have to reapply for your own job every year just for the privilege of keeping on working. After the many and manifest failures of the FSA, and after the TCF programme revealed that we were massively TCF anyway, this is just taking the proverbial.

  12. ‘it’s about giving small firms time with the FSA’.

    Well to be honest I’d rather spend time with a person infected with the EBOLA virus, sneezing over me than have someone from that mendacious crew of intellectual bankrupts wasting my time.

    Having wasted nearly 600 hours of my time studying for these exams they have no right in law forcing down our throats, I simply don’t want to have some aparachik who couldn’t run a whelk stall, wagging his/her finger at me.

    Oh, and by the way, why are they shroud waving via money marketing when they should be communicating to us directly. Trying to put the fear of god into us, probably.

  13. @Anonymouse
    Said it before and will say it again; you are an FSA stooge.

  14. We might as well live in a Communist State. With all the government quangos controlling every aspect of our lives we might as well all be civil servants.

    It doesn’t matter what industry or area of commerce you work in, the State sticks its nose in, adding costs, reducing efficiency and totally destroying moral.

    We need a revolution. We need to tell the government and all the little Hitlers they employ in regulatory jobs that they are the sevants of the people rather than our masters.

  15. From the comments on this forum I think most people would want to go through their careers never having any contact with the regulator at all. Self regulation…just like the journalistic press and we all know how massively successful that was! The FSA have a job to do and good or bad it is a job that needs doing.

  16. In the Late 80’s an act of parliament was passed to protect consumers against bad advice and rogue traders,It was called the financial services act, that is why we have the FSA today.
    Over the years the most important people in financial services have been totally forgotten, as the regulators with their fat cat incomes are totally submerged in their own self importance. When for god sake are the general public going to be told, in a time when they least need it with inflation spiraling, fuel bills out of control, and another recession looming, that they are now going to have to pay for all the advice they wish to seek from an IFA. Are the general public no longer important or have the FSA simply forgotten they exist. A recent survey conducted stated that 85% of the public had not even heard of RDR. Surley if there isnt some a legal issue here there is most definatly a moral one when people will wake up on January the 2nd 2013 and ring an IFA for advice and find that they now have to pay fees. Imagin if one day there was a knock at your door, your postman was standing there mail in hand and announced that from now on you can only have your mail if you pay a daily fee???? FSA when are the public going to be properly informed and why has all this gone ahead without any public consutation?????

  17. @anonymous 5:16. Do you mean ‘anonymous’? Is it that you are technically illiterate ?? Passed any A level (L4) exams yet?

  18. Interesting to see that IFA’s are so perfect that they do not need regulation! Reading the comments on these pages, one would assume that IFA’s are totally beyond any reproach. There are good and bad IFA’s. Regulation is necessary as self regulation never worked and never will.

    I remember the 80’s well and weaker regulation allowed firms to recruit anyone to the industry. I remember the advent of financial advisers proliferating and ripping off customers, many who had received redundancy packages which the sharks were only too pleased to attack. And this was before the banks really took an interest in financial advice.

    What we have today is a marketplace that is probably the envy of Europe, if not the World. Professional advisers that understand the business better than at any time in history. The regulators have had a hand in this whether we admit it or not.

  19. “Supervisors will give feedback on advisers’ business models and check whether they have met the necessary requirements”.
    @gaazza this is not regulation, this is state interference, from a government within a government. Do the other FSA tell the butcher how much to charge his customers or ask to see his business plan in order that they may accept or reject it?
    Any right thinking person agrees with regulation. What we have in its place is distorting free markets and ruining small business.
    I disagree entirely with your assumption, as you have no real proof, that we are the envy of Europe, if not the world.
    You should not make statements like this unless you have concrete proof that what you are saying is true, and you do not.
    You sound like the failed regulator, desperately hoping to convince all and sundry that the millions that have been flushed down the pan, in the name of consumer protection, has been worth it.

  20. To Anonymous 11.29 am.

    I travel around Europe and the rest of the World extensively. My ‘proof’ is anecdotal and observational. I have met with advisers from different Countries who operate a number of advisory models. European regulatory bodies are frequently more intrusive and directive than the FSA. The DFSA in Dubai and the Qatar regulators are far more intrusive with small firms.

    The FSA supervise over 25,000 firms. Most of which are ‘small firms’. Proportionatly, the vast majority of small firms are monitored via a desk based and returns regime. Most of the regulatory focus is on bigger firms. So you would be fairly unlucky to get a visit from the regulator….which sounds to me like you should be relieved as your obvious lack of knowledge might just catch you out.

    I have a number of good friends who work as IFA’s. I have had to study to get professionally qualified, and I assure you I am no spring chicken! My qualifications have been added to over the years. I have never complained and feel that regulation keeps the sharks at bay.

    Perhaps you are a shark….you demonstrate the behavioural elements of a dinosaur so perhaps extinction is in the air?

  21. To Richard Wright

    Customers have already been paying for advice, only in an extremely opaque way. What is commission if it is not the provider taking charges from a customer’s plan over a number of years but paying a whack to us upfront at the start of the plan? Customers already pay for advice, the problem is that our industry has never told them! I bet if you asked customers how they would rather pay for advice a lot of them would rather pay a fee. And remember RDR still allows the providers to pay that fee from the plan, only that now we need to agree that fee with the customer at the start of the process rather than the commission being decided between us and the provider. In every other service industry as a customer you know exactly what you are paying and what you get for your money…except financial services apparantly!

  22. ‘Anonymouse’ – A level exams are Level 3, not 4.

  23. @gaazza, as I said, you sound like a failed regulator.

  24. @gaazza – The problem is that you are harping back to the bad old days which are long gone. Yes you could recurit a plumber to sell life assurance in the 80s and yes there was a lot of bad practice.

    However, the industry has cleaned up its act both through industry initiatives and regulation. The problem is that regulation is no longer proportionate and no longer produces the same results.

    The largest scandals in our industry are now committed by the larger institutions, failed regulation of a number of investment companies and not the failed advice.

    Secondly it is very easy to judge with hindsight that advice was bad. Having an endowment mortgage with tax relief on mortgages strong investment returns through decades was not a bad idea. Would you arrange such now No.

    So before you come down on the side of regulation have a little consideration for those of us who care about what happens to the consumer and where regulation is actually leading us.

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