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Trade bodies say RMAR guidance fails to address industry concerns

IFA Centre, Apfa and the PFS argue a full review of the RMAR is still needed.

Trade bodies say the latest guidance from the FCA on the retail mediation activities return fails to address key questions over the volume of information advisers are asked to supply and why.

Last week the FCA issued a technical note on section K of the RMAR and admitted it had failed to provide firms with enough support on completing the returns.

Since 30 June, advisers have had to complete new sections K and L when completing RMAR returns, which requires firms to send the FCA additional information on initial and ongoing advice charges, whether advice is independent or restricted, and how advice is paid for.

Money Marketing revealed in September adviser trade and professional bodies were pushing for an urgent review of the RMAR after firms raised repeated concerns over the amount of work involved. Trade bodies say the additional guidance is welcome but a full review is still needed.

IFA Centre managing director Gill Cardy says: “The amount of information firms are expected to provide has not changed.

“The FCA has provided extra guidance on what it is asking firms for, and while that is welcome advisers have been looking for a more fundamental review of what is required of them.

“The vital questions are what does the FCA do with the information and is all of it necessary? We cannot just tinker around the edges with this.”

Apfa director general Chris Hannant says the level of detail firms are required to supply for RMAR returns is more appropriate for a thematic review than a return being completed on a regular basis.

He says: “Having clarity in what you are collecting is important, but the FCA also needs to look at the whole issue. Firms need more time to report, and should only have to report the data annually, rather than every six months.

“The FCA is looking at wider data reporting issues as part of its data strategy paper, but it is doing that more slowly than we would have hoped.”

The FCA published its data strategy paper in September on how it will manage and use the information it collects from firms.

The regulator said it would test a new data management model to show how it would improve data collection before committing any money. It is using the UK retail investment market as a test case and will report its findings in September 2014.

Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards says: “It is of course accepted the regulator needs to gather meaningful data to aid effective supervision and hopefully the RMAR lessons will influence future thinking and processes in general.

“The additional guidance is a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done to make the current RMAR process more efficient and effective if it is going to deliver against its objectives.”

FCA head of savings, investments and distribution David Geale says: “The data we obtain through RMAR returns is absolutely crucial to our approach to regulating small firms.

“The RDR is still relatively recent and we have committed to monitoring firms’ compliance with the adviser charging rules.

“We are conscious of the requirements we put on firms and we look to keep that as proportionate as possible.

“We will continue to listen to the industry but I cannot promise there will be less data collection.”


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