The FSA today said individuals making personal recommendations to retail clients via a simplified advice process must be qualified to the same minimum standard as those providing full advice.
Some stakeholders had called for a lower requirement for those carrying out this function, but the FSA has ruled it out in final guidance on simplified advice, published today.
Elsewhere, the regulator has confirmed the complaints procedure for full advice also applies to simplified advice, and said its rules for assessing suitability are also unchanged.
The adviser charging rules as outlined following the Retail Distribution Review also apply unaltered.
Today's guidance relates to investment advice delivered to retail clients.
The FSA said the term 'simplified advice', though not defined in the Handbook, describes 'streamlined' advice processes designed to address "straightforward" needs of consumers.
They have the potential to meet the needs of consumers who might benefit from investment advice but who can't, or do not want to, pay for full advice. It may result in a specific product recommendation, the FSA said.
According to the regulator, there has been interest in developing simplified advice processes, mainly by providers. Aviva had gone so far as to develop a prototype, but it has now decided not to pursue it.
Draft simplified advice models thus far shared with the FSA have typically been automated, process-driven services, which could be delivered via the internet, face-to-face or over the telephone.
The FSA has published guidance because it said it wanted a regulatory regime for retail investment advice which "provides for an appropriate level of consumer protection, and within which firms can offer simplified advice processes if they think this is an attractive proposition for them and their clients".
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