Most of us at some point or another will require some form of professional financial advice, but who regulates the Independent Financial Advisory (IFA) industry is not always clear to those seeking financial advisory for the first time.
With both a strategic and day to day oversight of the IFA community sits the Financial Conduct Authority – headquartered in London, the FCA regulates and enforces compliance across the entirety of the UK’s financial services and markets.
Whether you are looking for the right mortgage, pension, insurance or as simply looking to health check your portfolio, the FCA is there to ensure that you receive the right advice and support within a unified framework, and where this falls short of the expected standards provides the consumer a point of recourse.
The Financial Conduct Authority – Providing Oversight of the UK’s Finance Industry
Put simply, the aim of the FCA is to regulate the UK’s financial services and broader market in a way that adds the most benefit to those that are seeing to access or use financial services. Any firm offering financial products or imparting professional advice must be fully regulated and registered with the FCA.
Prioritising the consumer, the FCA uses a series of regulatory frameworks which not only regulates the actions of financial service providers, banks and IFA’s but provides a strict advisory structure that gives the consumer efficiency, transparency as well as fair advice and service access.
Covering some 59,000 UK financial firms, the FCA sets stringent standards that are aimed at making the markets work well and efficiently – for individuals, large and small firms as well as the economy as a whole the FCA has a dedicated oversight to safeguarding the conduct of our financial markets and consumer finance.
Established in 2013, the FCA is an integral part of the UK Government economic strategy and provides the framework in which our IFA’s, banks, building societies and other service providers operate.
Why is an Oversight Needed?
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the health of the economy is of paramount importance to the wellbeing of the nation.
A key component of this is to ensure that consumers have an equality of access to the right and regulated financial advice. From children’s ISAs to investments, mortgages and pensions to insurance, getting the right advice, products and services ensures that both the provider and consumer are protected.
Employing over 2.2 million people and contributing some £65.6 BN in tax revenues to the wider the UK economy, the FCA ensures that the markets operate exactly as they should to benefit consumers, companies and the wider economy.
In short the strategic objective of the FCA is to ensure that the markets and financial firms function to protect:
- Consumers – The FCA secures an appropriate degree of protection for consumers.
- Financial Markets – Adequate protections in place to enhance the integrity of the UK financial system.
- Promote Competition – Effective market competition is in the interests of consumers.
The FCA is an independent public body that is funded by the firms that it regulates and the work of the FCA is defined by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). With a broad remit the FCA works with consumer groups, trade associations and professional bodies, domestic regulators, EU legislators and a wide range of other stakeholders.
Buyer Beware – The FCA as a Final Point of Recourse and a Source for Pre-Engagement Due Diligence
Providing crucial advice to those seeking financial advice in the UK the IFA community is integral to the economic health of the nation.
Whilst the inner workings of the FCA may not be known outside of industry professionals, the work of the FCA is integral to ensuring that consumers get the right advice and services. The FCA Consumer Hub provides a wealth of information and support regarding firms and their accreditation, consumer rights and as a final point of call to complain about fraudulent advice, scams and misleading statements.
The FCA can help you in a number of ways and we at Fintuity would always recommend that you do your own due diligence before engaging professional services or accessing financial products. There are a number of tools that can help you and that are entirely free of charge:
- Ensure the firm you are speaking with is fully regulated
- Check the FCA’s Black List of firms and individuals
- Make a complaint
- Access useful tips and guidance
Fintuity – The UK’s First and Only FCA Regulated IFA
As the only regulated digital IFA in the country, Fintuity is not only fully FCA compliant but has additional safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of not only the advice given and services offered but also the platform that we use.
Our entire online platform has been designed to ensure that security and client protection is at the heart of what we do – we are a fully regulated FCA firm and offer a wide range of IFA services but with the added benefit of a below industry fee structure.
We take our compliance and regulatory obligations seriously and suggest that before you engage any financial service that you always name check the FCA hub for more information.