Independent Financial Advice
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 ‘tied’ to recommending and promoting 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 regulates all financial and insurance firms. This ranges from the largest multinational bank, to the financial adviser operating as a sole trader. The FCA handbook lays down the rules and guidance to which all regulated Advisers must adhere to. The rules are freely available from the FCA’s website– www.fca.org.uk.
How do I know the company I am dealing with is independent?
Independent advisers are able to select product for customers from the whole of 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 but a personalised advice service.
What protection do I have?
When the adviser is advising you on regulated products (including investments, insurance and some forms of mortgages) you have 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. They will investigate the cause of your complaint and gives them the chance to put things right if something has gone wrong. Should you remain dissatisfied you may be entitled to 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.
You can contact the FOS at: Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, Harbour Exchange Square, London E14 9SR
Tel: 020 7964 1000
Anything else I should know?
Some financial advisers do give advice on products that are not regulated by FCA – such as general taxation and some Buy-to-Let mortgages. Your adviser will explain to you when you are receiving advice on an unregulated product.