A financial services marketing expert has suggested consumers care very little about the status of their adviser and criticised the FSA's choice of terminology on the issue.
Lucian Camp, of Lucian Camp Consulting, said in reality the words 'independent' and 'restricted' will mean very little to consumers and may even add to confusion.
He said he was frustrated with the FSA's use of language and said the tags registered low on a scale of fitness for purpose.
"Arguably the word independent may have made a degree of sense as an opposite to the words tied or multi-tied. As an opposite to restricted, it makes no sense at all," he said.
"It's about freedom of control and expression and from the financial support of others and never means anything about breadth of service or comprehensiveness of scope."
Using the analogy of an independent hotel, he explained how consumers would know it is not owned by anyone else, rather than expecting to be offered "every conceivable brand of malt whisky".
In contrast, he pointed out how many advisory firms may describe themselves as independent despite being owned by another entity.
Although he also accepted the word ‘independent' may have greater cachet among consumers, this did not mean they would necessarily abandon advisers should they choose the restricted route.
He said: "If clients are happy with the relationship with their adviser, they couldn't care less about the regulatory minutiae, except for the few anoraks."
Citing St James's Place, a firm he works with, he pointed out hundreds of advisers had moved to there from independent firms and rarely found their clients would not come across with them.
He concluded by telling advisers of the one word which may actually mean something to consumers and identify the quality of advice: 'Chartered'.
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