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MAS directory criteria ‘dangerous’, warns Apfa

The Money Advice Service is veering into “dangerous” territory by seeking to limit access to its new retirement adviser directory to advisers meeting certain criteria, warns Apfa.

This week the MAS revealed it is looking to launch a retirement adviser directory to help boost referrals from its service to advisers.

A consultation on the plan proposes that advisers listed in the directory must have an “appropriate specialism” in retirement planning, for instance because they conduct a certain level of business in that area.

The MAS also says advisers should hold additional qualifications or have an accreditation to a relevant body such as the Society of Later Life Advisers.

Apfa director general Chris Hannant says: “The MAS appears to be setting standards beyond FCA requirements.

“It is dangerous for the MAS to set itself up to judge which firms are fit to advise on certain areas. That is not its job, it is the FCA’s job, and the MAS should not be going anywhere near that, especially when it expects to raise money from all advisers.

“If the MAS tries to be a regulator, not only will take up of the directory be low, but it will not be able to justify funding from the whole advice sector.”

The consultation says that exact criteria for inclusion on the directory will be agreed by a panel, which would include industry and consumer representatives.

Hannant adds: “We welcome that MAS recognises the fact that criteria need to be set in agreement with industry and consumer representatives, and will work with MAS on getting this right.”

In the consultation, the MAS says: “By prescribing certain criteria for entry to the directory, it is not the intention to add an additional layer of regulation to firms’ or advisers’ activities.

“Rather, that consumers using the directory can be assured that firms and advisers have a particular commitment to this area of financial advice and specialise in it.”

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Hang on! We pay the FCA, the FCA pays MAS and MAS recommends who they like? Looks like a refund situation to me if we are excluded from MAS`s little club.

  2. Susan Foottit 6th June 2014 at 2:15 pm

    To be an independent financial adviser, the FCA says: “Every adviser within a firm must be willing and able to advise on all retail investment products”. It would be a pretty poor show then if an advise wasn’t competent to give good advice on taking retirement benefits. MAS Ismell a rat…..

  3. @ Susie Footit 2.15. But remember, according the the FCA if you specialise on pensions and only pensions you can say that you give independent advice on pensions. Even though in reality you are restricted. How are MAS going to figure this one out???? The whole thing is a total mess and the longer it goes on the worse it seems to get. Still its friday so I don’t care.

  4. Susie Foottit 6th June 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Creeping normality, the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable

  5. @Marty
    I don’t think that’s correct. If you only give advice on pensions, albeit on a whole of market basis, you can’t refer to your firm as being independent. That’s why investment management firms can’t, and don’t, call themselves independent (for investments) either.

  6. Christopher Petrie 6th June 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Oh dear Marty.

    That’s a pretty fundamental gap in your knowledge you’ve shown there…

  7. @ Christopher Petrie – i would refer you to a statement given by the our former illustrious leader in 2012 when he said and I quote “…..as an example, a firm specialising in say pensions, and only pensions, can provide independent financial advice on pensions”. If this has since been retracted and I have missed it, then you have my apology. I would also like to see where and when it occurred.

  8. Julian Stevens 9th June 2014 at 5:00 pm

    “when it [the MAS] expects to raise money from all advisers.”?? He makes it sound as if it’s optional. In case you hadn’t noticed Mr Hannant, the MAS issues an invoice every year to all regulated intemediaries and those who refuse to pay get shut down. The MAS doesn’t give two hoots what we think of it. It’s a quango with statutory authority to raise whatever levies it fancies and then do with them pretty much whatever it likes (in the best traditions of the FSA/FCA). The only reason it’s grudgingly agreed, eventually, that it ought to be referring a few more of its customers to those forced to fund its very existence is because of pressure applied by the TSC.

  9. Rt Hon Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling 10th July 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I just cannot believe that anyone who is a serious businessman would want a ‘referral’ from the MAS to the sort of punters depicted ( presumably with MAS approval) on the telly. If so, I think such a businessman would be well advised to consult a RAS (Recruitment Advice Service) with a view to a change of career.

  10. If a firm is authorised by the FCA to provide advice in the retirement/pension market then MAS has no right what so ever to deny them the ability to be on the directory.

    I’m level 4 qualified, independent and directly authorised by the FCA. Are MAS suggesting that i can’t be on their directory despite the FCA deeming me perfectly able to provide retirement advice?

    Although, as the post above suggests, do i want the business they are likely to refer. A shed load of clients falling into the new sub £30k pension pot bracket and taking it all as cash. They will never have paid for financial advice before and probably begrudge paying for it to access their own money.

    All my humble opinion of course.

  11. @ Nick Wardle – I hear you but then again if you charge them £1000 as a minimum fee and it is to come from their pot, it will make it worth your while as it is not an arduous task and 4-5 hours should be sufficient time to spend on this. If they won’t pay it then thats fine. They can try to find another adviser to do it for less but they may be hard pushed to find one.

  12. Rt Hon Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling 11th July 2014 at 10:48 am

    Nick, I was not making a point about people being on low income being ‘not worth’ bothering with. I have clients who earn £15,000 ( the average ‘white van man earns £12,000 and I have lots of those). Conversely, I know people earning £100,000 + who have more debt than a small South American republic. My point was that the punters depicted on the MAS telly scenario obviously need debt counselling not the attentions of an investment adviser.

  13. @Marty & Sir Arthur

    Both valid points. We too have many clients that wouldn’t be classed as HNW and i can safely say we’re positioned at the end of the market that struggles most with promoting the value of advice but that is a different topic.

    My point was that i think those who utilise MAS first before looking for advice are likely to be, as Sir Arthur pointed out, more likely to need debt management advice first, more likely to have smaller pension pots and less likely to accept paying for advice. Obviously this is all my opinion and i’d happily be proved wrong.

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