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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 FCA, to give it its shorter title is the government watchdog that 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 of rules and guidance lays down the laws to which all Independent Financial Advisers must adhere, and the way they treat customers is governed by the ‘Conduct of Business’ (COBS) rules. The rules are freely available from the FCA’s website– www.fca.org.uk. Please note: this is an external site and our firm is not responsible for the content.
Independent advisers are able to select the correct product for customers from the entire market – that means they can potentially recommend any product from any provider 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 – and are getting personalised advice.
To ensure you do get personal advice your financial adviser will collect certain details about you and your circumstances to enable him to correctly advise you. Remember to be as open and honest as you can, because the more information you provide, the more accurate the adviser can make his recommendations.
From November 1st 2007, all financial advisers have to provide their customers with the relevant important documents:
If the financial adviser is providing advice on investment related business, they must provide a “Information about our services & costs”. This document incorporates the information about the cost of our services. The content of the “Information about our services & costs” document is listed below. This generally contains information on services provided by the firm, how the firm is paid for the business it conducts, their complaints procedure, Data Protection and coverage under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The “Information about our services & costs” document tells customers about the firm’s activities, whether they offer advice from the whole market, or a range of companies, or even a single firm. It also includes information about the firm being authorised and regulated by the FCA.
The “Information about our services & costs” document tells the customer about the service provided by the firm, the payment options and the way in which the firm is remunerated. This document is only provided to clients obtaining Investment advice.
You can ask to see these documents at any time. Use the ‘contact us‘ page to request these.
Your financial adviser will always endeavour to do the very best for you. Whenever you deal with a financial adviser you will receive details on the complaints procedures offered by the firm. If you wish you can request a copy of these procedures at any time.
When the adviser is advising you on regulated products (including investments, insurance and 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. This gives them the chance to put things right and/or to provide their own version of events. Should you remain dissatisfied you can refer your complaint to FOS who will investigate the complaint independently and make a ruling. 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.
If you try to submit a complaint to a firm and the firm is dissolved, or unable to meet its obligations, you may have recourse to the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). This is a service funded by all the companies within the industry to protect customers where firms have closed or gone into liquidation.
Where you have a complaint or dispute with us and we are unable to resolve it to your satisfaction then you may have access tot the Financial Ombudsman Service. Please see the following link for further details: