Doctors advise how best to look after our bodies, fitness experts whip us into shape and independent financial advisers ensure our finances are protected and in good health. But does an IFA prescribe the best remedy?
Alarm bells ring at Which? when we’re contacted by our members who fear they’ve been mis-sold financial products, not least when it’s the quality of financial advice that’s in question.
In a recent Which? Conversation poll, we asked if you thought an A-Level was a good enough qualification for a financial adviser. Over eight in ten (81%) of you thought people should have a higher qualification than A-level to become an adviser, the current minimum requirement.
Hello qualifications, goodbye commission
We have been campaigning for improvements for years, and it’s paid off – qualifications for Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) are finally rising.
The regulator and the Association of Independent Financial Advisors (AIFA), the IFA’s trade association, accept the need to address the ways in which IFAs are trained, practise their profession and earn commission.
The financial regulator is increasing qualifications and removing commission, which is great news. It marks valuable progress toward our goal of improved standards of advice for consumers.
But a small, extremely vocal, minority of IFAs aren’t happy about it and oppose the measures. They are lobbying MPs, objecting to re-qualifying, saying the costs of training will lead to the closure of their businesses.
We want to ensure the Financial Services Authority and Parliament hear from the people who use IFAs to paint a fair picture of the situation. After all it’s the customers who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of these changes.
So, have you ever sought advice from an IFA, and did you receive good advice? Was the commission structure explained to you? And, crucially, were the products they recommended right for your circumstances?