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‘RDR breaches human rights’

Solicitors for Independent Financial Advice says the FSA’s proposal to create a professional tier of IFAs as part of its retail distribution review could potentially be a breach of human rights.

Managing director Ian Muirhead says although he can understand the FSA’s wish to elevate the top tier of financial advisers to a similar technical status to solicitors and accountants, the big difference is that the major general qualifications come at the beginning of their careers, with most then going on to specialise.

He says: “To require IFAs, as a precondition of being permitted to continue in their chosen careers, to go through this grounding in subjects which may in many cases be of little relevance because they have already elected to specialise is more than unreasonable, it is quite probably a breach of human rights.”

Muirhead says the sensible alternative would have been for the FSA to pursue the path on which it has already embarked, of requiring advanced specialist qualifications for specialist areas of work.

Muirhead says another flaw in relation to professionalism is the FSA’s proposal to relate it to the individual rather than the firm.

He says: “This would permit a well-qualified self-employed person working out of his back bedroom to claim a higher professional status than a well-resourced firm which combines complementary specialist skills.”

He says this flies in the face of the FSA’s efforts to encourage the evolution of retail financial services from a cottage industry into more meaningful business units which are in a position to shoulder the responsibilities of treating customers fairly and the FSA handbook in a structured manner.

See Ian Muirhead’s argument at


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