FCA could scrap and replace adviser register

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Industry talks are being held between professional bodies and the FCA about scrapping the FCA register and replacing it with an alternative, Fund Strategy’s sister title Money Marketing can reveal.

The discussions have been prompted by the senior managers regime, which came into force for banks, building societies and insurers in March 2016.

It aims to ensure executives can be held to account where there are failings. The regime will be extended to all firms, including advisers, in 2018.

Under the initial rollout of the new approvals process, bank advisers have already left the register as firms are responsible for certifying and ensuring their staff are competent.

Early stage talks between the regulator and the advice sector are now being held to work out how the senior managers regime will apply to advisers, and in particular the implications for the FCA register.

There are fears that the wider rollout of the senior managers regime will see the register scrapped altogether.

But Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards says he is discussing a proposal to replace the existing register with combined data from accredited bodies.

Richards says: “The loss of a central register would be an unintended consequence. But on reflection, it’s probably not that easily accessible for members of the public, and tells you nothing other than whether someone is a registered individual. To some degree an alternative is attractive.

“One of the things we have been developing in consultation is the accredited adviser directory. That’s far more meaningful if you want to check the validity of an adviser. It has their qualifications, the renewal date of their statement of professional standing, and which areas the adviser specialises in.”

He adds: “We’re working on a credible alternative which could also see collaboration with the other accredited bodies. Our existing directory already holds over 85 per cent of regulated advisers on it. It already has a generic brand name, so we could expand this to other bodies to allow their members to come on it so becomes a central register.”

The idea is for a new register to be accessed via the existing findanadviser.org or yourmoney.org urls, as a public interest initiative rather than a rival to adviser directories such as Unbiased or VouchedFor.

For the new register to work, professional bodies would have to work closer with the FCA in terms of notifying them of any supervisory action.

Tenet group regulatory director Mike O’Brien says scrapping the register without an alternative would risk consumer detriment.

He says: “Getting rid of the register would mean there would be nowhere for the man on the street to go to establish this is a legitimate business they should be dealing with.

“It would be disproportionate to apply the senior managers regime to very small firms, and it would be dangerous to remove the register which is there to protect a consumer.”

The FCA plans to consult on the extension of the senior managers regime by June. The regulator declined to comment.