Is the FCA plotting ‘advice lite’ clampdown?

The FCA will turn its guns on firms offering non-advised solutions amid concerns they are straying into offering regulated advice, experts warn.

Speaking at a Platforum D2C event yesterday, Money on Toast managing director Charlie Nicholls said the regulator has tolerated some firms asking personal questions before providing non-advised services to customers.

Nicholls predicts the FCA will eventually decide that asking any personal questions of a customer means a firm is offering a personalised recommendation.

He said: “I think that going forward, the FCA is going to come down much harder on these sorts of advice-lite propositions.

“As that advice gap gets filled, I think we’re going to see a much stricter line on when firms are asking personal questions, they’re providing advice.”

Speaking at the same event John Tracy, head of TD Direct Investing, said: “When we thought about all the things we wanted to provide customers and we talked to the FCA, it was clear we couldn’t do it with execution-only permissions, even though we could see people doing things with execution-only permissions that we wanted to do.

“What we see in the marketplace is a very unlevel playing field, and that probably is the point that causes the most internal discussion for us.

“It’s not always clear why competitors in the marketplace that are supervised by the same regulator are doing things so differently. So I do think there’s a role for the regulator to clarify what simplified advice is, because clearly the version we have may not be the right one.”