Independent advice is not the only option available.
If you go to your high street bank you may be greeted by a financial adviser, but they could well be ‘restricted’ to providing advice and recommending the products of the bank, or a single insurance/investment company to which the bank has an allegiance. So why do we need independent advisers, and how can customers be sure they are getting a fair deal?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The FCA, to give it its shorter title is the government watchdog that regulates all financial and insurance firms – this ranges from the largest multinational banks, to financial advisers operating independently. The FCA handbook of rules and regulations sets out the laws to which all Independent Financial Advisers must adhere, and the way they treat customers is governed by the ‘Conduct of Business’ (COBS) rules. The rules are freely available from the FCA’s website – www.fca.gov.uk
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How do I know the company I am dealing with is independent?
Independent advisers are able to select the correct product for customers from the whole of the market – that means they can potentially recommend any product from any company providing it suits the customer’s needs and objectives. With such a wide choice of companies, investments and saving tools the customer can be reassured that they are not simply being provided with a standard recommendation – and are getting personalised advice.
All financial advisers have to provide their customers with important disclosure documents, detailing the following - information on services provided by the firm; how the firm is paid for the business it conducts; their complaints procedure; Data Protection and coverage under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can ask to see my disclosure documents at any time, simply contact me for these.
What protection do I have?
I will always endeavour to do the very best for you. Whenever you deal with a financial adviser you will receive details on the complaints procedures offered by the firm. If you wish you can request a copy of these procedures at any time.
Advice provided on regulated products (including investments, insurance and some forms of mortgages) has the protection of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
If you are unhappy about the advice or service you have received you should firstly contact the firm that provided the advice or service. This gives them the chance to put things right and/or to provide their own version of events.
Should you remain dissatisfied you can refer your complaint to the FOS who will investigate the complaint independently and make a ruling. The FOS work with customers and financial advisers to resolve a complaint, and when they do have to make a ruling it is binding upon the firm.
If you try to submit a complaint to a firm and the firm is dissolved, or unable to meet its obligations, you may have recourse to the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). This is a service funded by all the companies within the industry to protect customers where firms have closed or gone into liquidation.