City watchdog looks to boost access to financial advice for consumers
The Financial Conduct Authority has laid out measures to widen access to financial advice today as it looks to allow consumers to “invest with confidence” amidst a cost of living crunch.
The City watchdog, which set out its strategy for consumer investments last year, said it is now looking to create a “separate, simplified financial advice regime” to make it cheaper and easier for firms to advise consumers about investments.
Among the measures being mulled by the FCA are streamlining the so-called ‘fact find’, so advice is more straightforward for both firms and customers, and limiting the range of investment so the advice is “easier to deliver and understand”.
Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director of Markets at the FCA, said the proposals would help ease access to sound advice for Brits amid a cost of living crunch.
“Now more than ever, people across the UK should have access to useful and affordable financial products and services which can improve their quality of life and support the Economy,” she said.
“These proposals are part of our work to deliver a consumer investment market where people can readily access support and firms aren’t deterred from providing it.”
The watchdog is now set to consult on the proposals before it decides whether to push ahead. Analysts at AJ Bell said the move from the regulator was a welcome return to simplification after it first laid out similar plans over a decade ago.
“In bringing simplified advice back from the dead, the FCA wants to make a dent in the advice gap by encouraging more firms, no-doubt including major high street banks and building societies, to step into the advice market,” said Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell.
“In turn, the regulator will be hoping more people will take advice and invest for the long-term, rather than stashing their savings in cash and risk seeing it eroded away by inflation.”
The move from the watchdog was hailed in some quarters, with Interactive Investor boss Richard Wilson describing it as a “watershed moment in the UK”.