The FSA is not making a 'realistic attempt' to involve the wider IFA community in consultation sessions for the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), according to Phil Castle of Financial Escape.
Castle says limited places at the seminars are not sufficient to involve all firms and the FSA has not made enough provision for those unable to physically attend the sessions to get involved.
In a letter to the FSA events team and IFAonline, Castle says: “I wish to ensure my firm is able to at least make itself heard and ensure that the opinion of the majority of small IFA firms is heard too and not just the Providers, Bankassurers and Networks.
“I am surprised therefore that in view of the numbers of directly authorised firms with only one or two advisers, you have only laid on 13 seminars for 35 attendees making a total of 455 bums on seats when there are more authorised firms than that let alone individuals! One might suspect therefore that there has been no realistic attempt to open it out to the wider IFA community.”
The FSA’s figures show there are 5,422 authorised financial advice firms in the UK, which means less than 10% of financial advice firms can attend the sessions.
Castle also criticises the FSA for not making use of technology such as web-feeds, conference calling and online interactivity for the consultation sessions to reduce costs for advisers wishing to get involved.
He claims the costs of travel and expenses, coupled with business lost for spending a day out of the office, would come to over £750.
Castle adds: “Before the last seminar takes place, can I suggest [the FSA] investigate some of these options, for those advisers like me who want to take part, but may object to the business cost of a full day out of office”.
In response, the FSA says the consultation sessions are one of many ways in which firms can become involved with the discussion paper.
A spokesman for the FSA says: “In addition to the FSA workshops, we are attending a number of AIFA dinners across the UK, the first of which was last week in Exeter, covering the RDR at the Small Firms Roadshows, and speaking at PFS seminars. Again, feedback from these suggests that people believe us when we say we are listening.”
He adds that IFAs can also give feedback through a form on the FSA website and says a number of events and conferences will be attended by the FSA, including those run by Bankhall, Positive Solutions and Sesame.
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