The Association of Professional Financial Advisers (APFA) has warned the regulator that consumers will be disadvantaged if the trend of shrinking adviser numbers is not reversed.
APFA director general Chris Hannant (pictured) asked the Financial Conduct Authority in a blog post to put measures in place to make running an advisory business easier, without lowering the standards brought on by the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).
He warned that a further reduction in adviser numbers would fuel the advice gap and make it more expensive for those consumers that were able to access advice.
Hannant said the regulator needed to establish conditions in which advisory firms could grow.
He said: "Given there are 25% fewer advisers, one would naturally expect there to be more opportunities for those still advising.
"However, I would expect this also means that there are some clients that are having problems finding an adviser and, on a basic application of economics, they can expect to pay more for that advice.
"From a consumer and business perspective I think from here it is fairly obvious what needs to be done.
"We need to make it easier for advisers to do business and look after clients. We need to encourage more firms to develop talent to provide advisers for the future and more young people to join the profession."
Given the FCA's new competition objective, he said, the regulator should encourage new talent to enter the market and make it easier for them to do business.
Over the coming year APFA will be campaigning for a fairer deal on regulatory fees - which crept up continually over the past few years - a longstop limiting the time a complaint can be brought about advice, and a simpler handbook and reporting requirements.
Hannant said:"I see firms increasingly thinking about the future as the effort of getting ready for RDR recedes and the frustrations of the business environment come more to the fore.
"No system is perfect and the FCA must recognise that what it inherited is flawed and cumbersome. Running a financial services firm could be made easier without lowering consumer protection."
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