Following a public consultation earlier this year, the Money Advice Service are putting to work plans to create an impartial financial adviser directory, to help consumers research and find regulated financial experts and the most suitable advisory service.
Currently there is no set way for consumers to thoroughly and efficiently find and assess the right financial advice service or adviser for their needs, not without an element of bias or lack of understanding of the industry. Many don’t know the full range of products and services available to them and have gained a lack of trust in the industry.
When buying and selling homes or approaching retirement, people need to ensure that they can gain access to qualified experts and be reassured that their futures are kept secure.
The plan for the directory — which is set to launch in April 2015 — is to give consumers confidence to search for their own financial adviser or service, rather than relying on others, as recommendations from friends and family may not always be the best option available. This will also give those within the finance industry a platform to present their services to consumers directly amongst their competitors, completely free of charge.
Prior to finalising plans, the Money Advice Service carried out a thorough consultation to test the waters with experts, as well as consumers themselves. 27 responses were received from a range of financial sectors including industry bodies, product providers, practicing financial advisers and consumer organisations — many of which were in agreement with the main concerns that were raised. 42 responses were also received direct from consumers through a proposal drafted out on Money Saving Expert in June.
Most of the respondents agreed the Money Advice Service was the most suitable independent organisation to host the directory, due to their renowned impartiality within the industry and that it coincided with their main company objectives.
Respondents also displayed the need to have a panel decide whether the directory should only include retirement specialists or cover all areas of regulated financial advice. The panel will also decide how fees and charges of the various services will be incorporated, as well as set criteria for inclusion within the directory.
Caroline Rookes, CEO at the Money Advice Service, says: “The new adviser directory will help many people access specialist advice based on their individual circumstances.
"We look forward to working with the advice community to help make consumers’ transition from guidance to regulated advice as seamless as possible.”
Chris Hannant, director general at the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, adds: “I welcome the Money Advice Service proposal. An impartial and effective directory will be important to securing an effective handover from the guidance guarantee to financial advisers.
"We will work with the Service to ensure that the directory’s criteria are effective in delivering this, and helps link consumers that need advice to those that are capable of delivering it.”