Articles - FSA comments on the introduction of RDR

 The Financial Services Authority(FSA) has commented on the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review(RDR). This is the FSA's most extensive and far-reaching policy project to date.

 "The changes aim to improve the quality of advice, reduce mis-selling and, in the longer term, improve the level of consumer confidence and build general levels of trust in advisers.

 The key changes are:

 The cost of advice must be made clear to the customer

 Advice has never been free-but this hasn't always been made clear. It is important that people understand that advice comes at a cost and what that cost is. At the moment, the cost of advice is often obscured in the price of the product and people are not aware how much their investment advice is really costing them.

 We have banned commission payments from product providers to advisers. Advisers will have to clearly explain to the customer upfront how much advice will cost and how the customer will pay for it. This will ensure that the advice advisers give will be in the best interests of the customer, not driven by how much commission they could earn.

 Advisers will be qualified to a higher professional standard

 We are making sure that advisers are competent by raising the minimum professional standard and by making sure that advisers undertake regular training to keep their knowledge of the products in the market up to date.

 Advisers will need to subscribe to a code of ethics, hold an appropriate qualification, carry out at least 35 hours of continuing professional development a year, and hold a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) from an accredited body.

 The type of service that advisers offer will be clearly explained

 Financial advisers will have to clearly describe their services as either ‘independent’ or ‘restricted’. Advisers that provide ‘independent’ advice will be able to consider all types of retail investment products which could meet the customer’s needs and consider products from all firms across the market.

 A ‘restricted’ adviser will only be able to recommend certain products, product providers, or both. This means they might only offer products from one company, or just one type of product."

 Linda Woodall, head of investment intermediaries, FSA said, “The changes will improve customer confidence–we want people to feel that they are getting a service from their financial adviser that is relevant to their circumstances and in their best interests.

 These changes are about making the cost of advice clearer, where else would you buy something without knowing in advance how much it costs? Customers will now know how much advice is costing them, the service that they are receiving, and be reassured that their adviser is qualified.”

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