What you need to know about the new FCA

Last weekend’s reorganisation of financial regulators has meant the once all-encompassing Financial Services Authority (FSA), has been replaced with three bodies; the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).  If you’re out looking for a financial adviser, the creation of the FCA is probably the most important development. This new institution assumes all of the financial watchdog responsibilities which were previously under the remit of the FSA.

The FCA’s primary purpose seems quite similar to its precursor – to oversee the behaviour of the financial services industry, and to protect consumers from malpractice.  The crucial difference however, is the power the FCA has been given to deal with suspicious activity within the industry.  Not only will it be able to ban and assess products which it believes are suspect, but it will also be able to remove products from the market if they are believed to be mis-sold.

The FCA’s chief executive, Martin Wheatley, has faced numerous questions about the damage which new powers could have on product innovation in the industry, and also the extent to which the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) has created confusion about what is meant when advisers are referred to as ‘independent’ and ‘restricted’.  In an interview with the Financial Times, Wheatley said the regulator had received negative industry feedback over independent and restricted advice definitions.

Unbiased.co.uk believes that it is important for financial advisers to review the whole market for the financial products they recommend to consumers, so in line with these regulatory changes, last year unbiased.co.uk included an additional set of financial advisers to the IFA search.  Those who offer whole of market advice on a restricted group of product areas, which we call ‘restricted whole of market advisers’.  This means consumers using an unbiased.co.uk adviser are not compromised by the outcome being a ‘fait accompli’ before they even walk through the door of the adviser’s office, and should ensure that consumers are able to find the best financial solutions for their circumstances.

While Independent Financial Advisers deal with all advice areas and work to find you the most suitable products for your circumstances, Restricted whole-of-market advisers will do the same, but are limited by the product area they advise on (eg. pensions, investments, protection).  Restricted advisers who are limited by the number of providers whose products they can recommend, or who work on a commission basis for investment products covered by the RDR, cannot be found on unbiased.co.uk.

Our search clearly labels the different advisers allowing consumers to choose the right type of financial adviser for them.  To find out more about the advisers we list on unbiased.co.uk and how to find the right one go to ‘How to find the right financial adviser’ page.