The second quality of advice review commissioned agency GfK to mystery-shop 50 companies, with the majority of shoppers attending two meetings with the firm.
The FSA allocated money to pay fee-based advisers for their work but refused to pay commission-based advisers for their efforts, which included producing a written recommendation and suitability report.
Sifa managing director Ian Muirhead says this is the first time that the FSA has asked advisers to carry out this much work as part of a mystery-shopping exercise.
He says: “Firms which operate on commission may be left unremunerated for their efforts in undertaking all the preliminary formalities and advice processes for ‘clients’ who never had any intention of doing business. One cannot help wondering about the ethics of the FSA leading firms up the garden path to this extent. It is not honourable and is a bit sneaky.”
An FSA spokesman says the lack of cash for commission-based advisers is a “consequence of their business model”. He says: “There was not the facility to remunerate commission-based advisers because no business was put through.”