The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has said it will "come down hard" on those firms who continue to flout its rules after its first round of thematic reviews this year.
The FSA will conduct four thematic reviews in 2013 in three cycles beginning later this month.
Four areas will come under the scope of the regulator's investigations; professional standards, charging, description of services and independence and restricted offerings.
The FSA said that in the first cycle of reviews if it finds firms not meeting its requirements it will give them "breathing space" to comply, and will allow firms a chance to "bed in" the changes brought about by the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in the first six months of the year.
However following the first cycle of reviews it will issue guidance to firms and if they are found to be failing to follow the FSA's rules after this, the regulator has warned that it will take action.
"If firms have mis-interpreted the rules in the first six months it may not be something we take action against," said an FSA spokesperson.
"After we have published guidance on best practice we will come down hard on them. Similarly we would take action if we found firms operating with unqualified advisers, for example, as that is unacceptable."
The results of this year's thematic reviews will feed into a post-implementation review of the RDR which the FSA will carry out in 2014 to see what the RDR has delivered for consumers and if any further changes are needed.
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