IFAs have been accused of lacking investment knowledge and of spending more time choosing between different providers than on investment strategy in Sandler's wide-ranging review.
Sandler says IFAs are more versed in areas such as tax planning than they are in understanding the often complicated nature of investment savings vehicles. He also believes they often do not come up to scratch when deciding between asset allocation strategies for clients.
Some IFAs have hit back, saying that most advisers have a good level of competence in this field but others concede there may be room for improvement.
In an interview with Money Marketing, Sandler says: “There are quite widespread concerns about IFA expertise in investment issues in dealing with, for example, alternative asset allocation strategies and being able to advise consumers at the level of investment performance.
“IFA expertise tends to be concentrated in the areas of such things as tax planning or choosing across different providers.”
Independent Financial Services director Jim Gill-espie says: “For IFAs with several years experience, this is unfair criticism. With all our professional qualifications, we have a good level of education on investment. But direct salespeople who have never advised on investment and then become IFAs have a steep learning curve.”
London IFA Michael Philips proprietor Michael Both says: “For myself, I understand all the topics I advise on. I do not dare recommend anything that I do not fully understand, especially in this regulatoryintensive world. I think if people like Sandler and regulators spent more time looking over the shoulder of providers and less time poking IFAs in the eye the industry would be much better off.”