Sesame believes small firms need more guidance about what the FSA requires as scrutiny of their compliance standards increases.
The network and support service provider says many of its advisers are getting a growing number of mystery shopping visits.
Sesame says the regulator is also increasingly deploying different ways to increase its reach such as sending emails, making phone calls and sending questionnaires alongside carrying out its standard visits.
Head of compliance serv-ices Neil Walkling says: “Our purpose for highlighting this is to raise an important issue around the increasing regulatory scrutiny of small IFA firms and the climate that they are now operating in. It demonstrates a trend that we expect to see accelerate in the future.”
Sesame is concerned that small firms are not given sufficient guidance on what the FSA expects of them and warns that this could worsen as the industry moves towards principles-based regulation.
Walkling says: “You cannot leave yourselves vulnerable when the FSA calls. Principles-based regulation will no doubt make life harder for small firms.
“It is not just about knowing which rules not to break but about wider responsibilities such as having the expected level of market intelligence. In reality, that is often taken even more seriously.
“If TCF is going to work, then it will take years of them banging the drum and showing the industry what it really means. But if you are not prepared to step up to the challenge as a firm, then perhaps you ought to consider a network or other such model that removes the burden.”