In our recent post, 5 Top Tips to find a good Independent Financial Adviser (IFA), we recommended that you checked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website, to check that your Independent Financial Adviser is listed on the FCA website as being “Authorised”, before proceeding.
The FCA is the regulator of Financial Advisers and their website is the number one place to go to check out your Adviser. However, it must be said that the information on the website is perhaps not the easiest to read or fathom out.
As we said before, the first thing you need to look out for is the term “Authorised” by the name of your chosen Financial Adviser and their firm. That helps you know that they are real and helps you avoid scams. But, beyond that, although the FCA website lists all the various permissions that an Adviser and their firm have, these can be very difficult to understand.
In September (2018) the FCA made an upgrade to the search fundction to include the option to “Find a Financial Advice Firm near me”. This is a postcode based search which brings up the nearest firms to you. However, the search function also brings up results for “unauthorised” firms. These are shown in red and the FCA website says “We strongly advise you avoid dealing with this firm”. Hopefully this will help people to avoid scam firms. The new search function also descibe firms authorisation status, either as “authorised” (.i.e direcly authorised by the FCA) or “appointed representative” (.i.e appointed by another authorised firm who are responsible to the FCA for their conduct). You might find this helpful.
The website still uses a lot of technical jargon in relation to permissions however, which are the distinct types of advice that an individual adviser is qualified and authorised to provide. For example, there are certain permissions required for giving advice on equity release schemes, or to provide advice on Long Term Care and probably most importantly, to give advice on Final Salary Pension schemes (Defined Benefit Schemes). Not all Independent Financial Advisers are qualified in these areas, so how else can you check?
Well, a new website called AdviserBook has recently been launched to try to make it easier to understand which Advisor firms are authorised and in what areas of business. The website is designed to be much more user friendly than the FCA website and allows you to search for authorised and regulated Financial Advisers close to you by offering a postcode search option.
The website gets its information on authorised and regulated firms directly from the FCA, so the only way to get onto the AdviserBook directory is to be a real firm.
AdviserBook’s stated aims are to 1) Help stop scams by only listing regulated financial advisers 2) Help the public by allowing them to choose firms appropriate to them and 3) To help advisor firms to gain better exposure.
So, if you are finding the FCA website difficult to understand and navigate you can also try AdviserBook.
Our advice still remains the same though, whoever you choose, please make sure you check that your Financial Adviser is fully authorised and able to provide you with the type of advice you ned before going ahead.