Many commentators have been warning the advice market that it was only a matter of time before Consumer Duty began to challenge charging models beyond that of SJP.
It appears that the time may have come with the FCA warning wealth managers they will need to justify high fees and ongoing advice charges under the Consumer Duty, as FTAdviser reports in a nice neat story.
The Dear CEO letter says the FCA has seen evidence of firms charging for services that have not been delivered, such as for ongoing advice.
The regulator believes that firms are overtrading on portfolios to generate high transaction fees, which it says is not in line with the needs of the consumer.
The letter from FCA director of consumer investments Lucy Castledine added: “We are also concerned that firms are not consistently providing clear disclosures on their fees or charging structures.
“As a result, consumers can be unaware of high fees that significantly reduce their investment returns.”
A few initial thoughts from me.
It would be interesting to understand in what circumstances exactly that wealth managers are not delivering ongoing services. Do they have legacy clients that are still being charged?
With disclosure, something that can, by and large, be judged reasonably fairly, it feels like a significant failing if widespread. Although the wealth manager/IFA boundary can be a fuzzy one, it does feel as if that is the one that could be something of a risk for some IFAs.
Finally, as no doubt some managers may argue, the amount of trading and its benefit to clients is surely a much more controversial area, though of course, one school of thinking among passive-tending advisers is to keep it very much to a minimum.
High trading and poor disclosure however does not sound like a winning combination.
The reaction will certainly be interesting.
In other news, Fidelity’s IFA DNA study shows that clients are “increasingly worried about their financial wellbeing” with levels of concern hitting the highest level since the study was launched in 2020 as FTAdviser again reports.
Advisers told the study they have seen growing demand with 93 per cent taking on new clients in the past 12 months, compared with 84 per cent in 2021 and 91 per cent in 2022.
More than half of those surveyed expect the number of people seeking advice to rise in the next five years, which is a little bit of good news amid the bad.
This is an interesting interview in Money Marketing - the Standard Life CEO Andy Curran wants to regain the ‘fantastic relationship’ the company had with advisers two decades ago — and he says prepared to put in the work to do so. The firm has been “distant from IFAs for too long”, he adds.
Canaccord Genuity Group is acquiring planning firm Intelligent Capital with £220m set to be added in assets under management.
The following does seem to be a significant percentage in terms of regulations driving change. 37 per cent of advisory firms have changed their fee structure as a result of completing the new Consumer Duty ‘fair value’ exercise.
Research by Royal London with research group, the Lang Cat found that 21 per cent found the changes needed were difficult with a lot of work needed to comply, with 3 per cent still to make the required changes as Corporate Adviser reports.
I think developments at Mercer are worth keeping an eye on. As Stephen Coates head of proposition, Mercer Workplace Savings writes in Corporate Adviser: “Last July, the Mercer Master Trust, in partnership with retirement specialists, HUB Financial Solutions, launched Destination Retirement.
“To our knowledge, we are the first to introduce full-fat, digital retirement advice to the workplace pension market. And we are proud that we have done so.”