The FSA has defended its decision to give accredited bodies permission to mandate membership before issuing advisers with a practicing certificate.
Advisers said the move breaks promises from the regulator and blurs human rights legislation which had previously stopped the FSA from forcing advisers to join a professional body.
In the past, the regulator has explicitly stated advisers would not need to be members of a body accredited with issuing statements of professional standing (SPS) in order to get one.
However, five of the six bodies awarded accredited status on a provisional basis earlier this week, including the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), said membership is obligatory for advisers seeking an SPS from them.
The FSA says because at least one of the bodies - the Institute of Financial Services (IFS) - will not mandate membership, advisers still have the choice.
Every adviser will need to hold an SPS, which could cost anything between £60 and £175, issued by an accredited body confirming they have adhered to its ethical standards, hold the required qualifications and have completed appropriate CPD.
Accredited bodies will have the power to remove an adviser's SPS.
The FSA said it was a "commercial decision" for accredited bodies to choose to offer SPSs to members or not.
"Although the FSA requires advisers to have an SPS, it does not require advisers to become members of organisations," a spokesperson said.
"Therefore, advisers can look around for other accredited bodies that do not mandate membership."
Advisers said the FSA was wrong to permit accredited bodies to set rules on who they can distribute SPSs to.
"This is an ethical issue," said Phil Castle, managing director at Financial Escape. "The FSA said advisers would not need to be members to get their SPS, but most insist on it.
"The fact that at least one applicant for accredited status will offer SPSs to non-members lets the FSA off the hook a bit."
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