IFA Promotion is introducing a weekly checking service against Financial Services Authority data to ensure all IFAs currently listed on its database are fully authorised by the regulator.
It says the changes will mean only individuals registered by the FSA will become IFAP members, while the weekly checking process will ensure its database is constantly accurate, and at the same time individual’s qualifications will also be verified with awarding bodies.
IFAP says the process is part of its ongoing commitment to ensuring consumers have access to top quality independent financial advice, as in addition the company says it already conducts a 100% audit each year to ensure that all IFAs on the IFAP database meet its strict membership criteria.
This means that firms must:
- Offer whole of market independent advice
- Have an investment IFA based at the branch
- Offer a fees option for each product area listed in their top eight (including General Insurance and Protection).
However although IFAP says it has always checked that firms not only meet this criteria but are also authorised, it admits a full weekly check will now take place to ensure the “utmost hygiene and accuracy in the data it provides to consumers”.
As a result the organisation will implement a three-step checking process before IFAs will be allowed onto the database, which includes making sure the IFA has an FSA Individual Reference, ensuring the Registered Individual (RI) is ‘active’, and checking to make sure the firm in question is the same as the one registered with the FSA.
IFAP says it has introduced the final check, as “IFAs, like the population as a whole, are not always the best at keeping the authorities completely up-to-date on their movements”, however it warns if an IFA has moved from one company to another and tries to update their IFAP entry before telling the FSA, they will be removed from the database.
It points out this process will also stop member firms from giving IFAP the names of RIs who have moved on, although it admits the check “becomes very complex when dealing with networks”.
David Elms, chief executive of IFA Promotion, says the organisation has been working hard to make a number of changes to maintain the hygiene factor of its database and overall search experience.
He points out since early 2006 it has been using data on RIs supplied by the FSA to check the authorisation of individuals, and he says “we now also ask them to declare that they are IFAs. We believe we are the only source of 100% genuine IFAs as even the FSA does not have this information”.
In addition Elms says: “IFAP has recently approached the FSA asking them to consider data capturing IFAs payment methods – either ‘fees or commission’ or ‘fees only’ – to enable IFAP to verify this information and to make this selection criteria available to consumers looking for local IFAs. We believe these things will go a long way to ensuring clients are getting exactly the IFA that best suits their needs.”
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 Nyree Stewart on 020 7034 2681 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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