In association with Adviser Business Review Magazine ATEB has produced a straightforward guide available for download that highlights key characteristics for an independent firm. We have included some anecdotal evidence to help illustrate various points, based on our field visits, knowledge and firm audits.
The FCA is now placing a greater emphasis on clarity for consumers. In our view, they simply want to be sure that firms are pretty much doing ‘what they say on the tin’ and not misleading clients. As part of our approach to checking a firm’s independent status we look for ‘Indicators’ that could suggest that the firm is Restricted. Some of these indicators have been highlighted in our report. If you really want to be Independent then our advice is simple:
- Don’t take referral fees or any third party payment that is linked to a product or service;
- Keep an open mind when you fact-find and offer solutions;
- Create a fee structure that means that you get paid regardless of the advice outcome;
- Ensure that any obligation, ownership, finance or something ‘sticky’ does not prevent the firm from providing a personal recommendation which is unbiased and unrestricted;
- Don’t offer pre-determined and default solutions;
- Always explain the virtues of holistic advice to clients;
- Maintain up to date CPD across the market;
- Ensure that your systems are transparent and well documented.
A copy of the report can be viewed and downloaded here.
We hope the guide gives you comfort and confirms that you are indeed acting independently. Alternatively the content may be the trigger to make modifications so that your services truly reflect those of an Independent Adviser or simply change the description of your services to Restricted.
Action Required By You
Review our report carefully and objectively. We offer 'independence audits' so if you're interested, please contact us here.