A Kent-based IFA has hit out against what he says is unfair treatment at the hands of the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
John Riley, a director at Metcalf Moat, says his firm has been invoiced an additional £2038 in adviser fees because of an error on his firm's Retail Mediation Activities Return (RMAR), and which the FSA has told the firm it will not refund.
The firm only realised it had overpaid its FSA fee when it received its invoice from the FSA last month charging it an additional £2038 in fees for an adviser who works for another intermediary.
Riley claims dealings with FSA call centre staff have proved fruitless, with staff telling the firm the regulator will not re-issue a correct invoice nor refund additional fees paid, despite it being clear to both sides of the dispute the RMAR submission is incorrect.
He adds staff at the FSA call centre told the firm such mistakes were commonplace, there was no right of appeal and no-one to which the firm could complain.
The error on the RMAR is the result of a relationship between Metcalf Moat and another firm, Miller Knight, to which it refers occupational pensions transfers.
The firm originally believed it had to include the name of the adviser at Miller Knight which dealt with these referrals on its RMAR submission to the FSA but was later told - once the RMAR had been sent – that this was not the case.
Having realised the error Metcalf Moat sought clarification from the regulator, which confirmed the adviser's details did not need to be included on the RMAR submission, and the firm therefore asked staff at the FSA to remove the adviser’s name from the RMAR before it was processed.
Samantha Bennett, a spokeswoman for the FSA, says it is the responsibility of senior management to provide the correct information on the RMAR.
But she adds in “exceptional circumstances” firms should write to the regulator and explain the mistake that has been made on the form and the regulator will then consider whether to make a refund of any fees paid, albeit this is not guaranteed.
She also says the FSA has recently updated its website advice on RMAR and made a fees helpline available.
Commenting on his firm's situation, Riley says: “While I know it’s not a massive amount of money, to a small firm like our own it makes a difference - that’s a marketing budget to us. The regulator seems to think firms are awash with money and that it’s not an issue.”
Firms which they have been incorrecly invoiced can write to the Revenue Operations Manager, 25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HS.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Matthew West on 020 7484 9893 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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