Increasing reference to the importance and value of professional advice is catalysing the sea change the profession deserves.
While the public does not generally understand, or is even aware of the changes introduced under the RDR, at least the Government and consumer bodies are starting to recognise the significance of the change for consumer outcomes.
The inclusion of professional advice for long-term care was debated as part of last year’s Care Bill. This was a turning point in what was widely regarded as the most significant reform of care and support legislation in 60 years.
Recognition of the need for professional advice was highlighted in both the Financial Services Consumer Panel’s research and the FCA’s subsequent thematic review published earlier this year. The FCA, in particular, expressed concern as to whether non-advised and simplified advice models were delivering good outcomes for consumers.
Though the proposed guidance guarantee aimed at better informing and empowering decision-making at retirement has attracted much debate, it is clear the need for advice will become more apparent, something acknowledged by the Government and the FCA. All this means the advice sector – as a united profession – has a chance to further influence a change of perception which for too long has been disproportionately negative.
Of course, not all advisers either want, or have the capacity, to take on any of the 15 million or so consumers needing advice.
We look forward to the FCA’s proposals due at the end of June, allowing processes that will potentially provide greater access for middle England.
Keith Richards is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society