The Alliance, which represents a global membership of 200,000 individuals, has warned that current FCA proposals will “fall short” of their aim to empower the consumer by failing to include key information on professional status.
The FCA has announced plans to replace its existing FCA register with a directory but under current proposals this will not show professional qualifications. Some commentators and professional bodies have criticised what they see as a watering down of the register and a failure to expand it to help consumers make informed choices.
Recently the FCA began trialling a ‘Find an Adviser’ service on its existing FCA register however this does not show professional qualifications or membership.
The Alliance says the FCA’s proposals:
•Do not show an individual’s professional affiliations, such as professional body membership and standing, or achievement of a professional standard;
•Do not reference whether an individual holds a valid Statement of Professional Standing (SPS), and with which Accredited Body.
Sian Fisher, chief executive of the Chartered Insurance Institute, said: “We believe that predominantly the public interest lies in knowing that the Directory person is authorised to do their role, and suitably qualified to do so.
“Both of these are important factors for consumers to evaluate when considering their options for the provision of financial services, who would have a clear indication about the adviser’s ability to practise and also have a clear signpost to further information about the individual from the professional body itself – for example, information about further qualifications and specialisms on the professional body’s website.”
Simon Culhane, chief executive of the CISI said: “Details about professional body membership, and whether the individual is an SPS holder, is, in my view, materially relevant information.
“Being a member of a Chartered professional body is an achievement signifying an ongoing personal commitment to high levels of knowledge, skills and behaviour that go beyond the minimum standards required by regulators.
“I believe the public should be able to differentiate between those that have made such a personal commitment to higher standards, and that the new Directory should highlight this.”
The Alliance has called on the FCA, in its final policy and guidance, to highlight “individual accountability”, on the data presented in the new Directory.
Simon Thompson, chief executive of the Chartered Banker Institute, said: “While we agree that firms have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure data is accurate and complete, and have measures in place to verify information that is given to them, it is also true that individuals have a responsibility to disclose information accurately, and to communicate openly with the regulator and their professional body.”