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FSA’s definition of ‘independence’ could hamper high-end IFAs, warns firm

The FSA’s new definition of independence could pose problems for investment-led IFAs due to their investment process, warns independent wealth consultancy No Monkey Business.

The firm says it is not clear what a financial planner who recommends third-party portfolio managers needs to do to retain their independence.

No Monkey Business managing director Stuart Fowler says: “Why do advisers who unitise their implementation choices have to treat that packaging as ‘restricted’ unless they advise on all similar third party packages?”

Fowler is also concerned that the tests the FSA has established for a firm to determine whether it is offering independent services will hinder the market’s ability to secure cost effective investment solutions.

The regulator’s new handbook definition of retail investment products now includes unregulated collective investment schemes, investment trusts, structured investment products, and other packaged investments which offer exposure to underlying financial assets.

Fowler notes there is no guidance as to whether there is a difference, in terms of a decision hierarchy between generic analysis of suitability.

He says: “It is particularly sad to see the FSA hooked on this even after noting in the new paper the results of its commissioned consumer research, namely that the new terms also mean different things to different people. Why keep going down this route, then?”


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Structured argument

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Chris Taylor, CEO of Blue Sky Asset Management

The funny thing about structured investments is that they seem to attract most criticism from those who know least about them. This lack of working knowledge is usually the result of nothing more complicated than a failure to engage with the leading providers in order to develop a detailed understanding of today’s industry. Much of the criticism directed towards structured products is often simplistic, outdated and misguided.

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