The Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have opened a consultation into what can be done to improve people’s access to financial advice.
Financial advisers and members of the public have until just before Christmas to tell the government and the regulator what they think should be done differently, they said yesterday.
The FCA has faced criticism in recent years that its Retail Distribution Review programme, intended to improve consumer confidence, has effectively priced out people with smaller net worth from accessing professional financial advice.
But with recent changes to pension schemes – including automatic enrolment and new pension freedom rules giving savers greater control over their portfolios – expected to boost demand for financial advice, the government announced over the summer that it will conduct a new review with the City watchdog. The consultation announced yesterday will be taken into account as part of that review.
In August, the Treasury said the review will “examine how financial advice could work better for consumers” and “ensure the regulatory and legislative environment allows and encourages firms to innovate and grow their business models to include affordable and accessible financial advice”.
Citizens Advice, a charity, welcomed the consultation, saying today it will publish its own new report on so-called advice gaps later this week.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "Getting the right money advice, support or guidance can be the key to a secure financial future."
Guy added that the review "must understand the full extent of the problems around the advice gaps", saying, "The price and availability of products and services is important, but the review must also address gaps in people's knowledge and understanding of what help they can get with planning their finances, and how to access it."
The consultation is due to close on 22 December, and a review is expected to be published before next spring's Budget.