The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is looking at whether platforms should be able to offer advisers free training services and events as part of its platform market study, Professional Adviser understands.
The regulator is looking at whether a conflict of interest arises from platforms offering free training services and events for advisers who use their platforms, taking into account it is the client who pays for the platform.
Professional Adviser understands some advisers have drawn parallels to the golf days and inducements that providers used to offer before the Retail Distribution Review.
In the FCA's annual competition report, the regulator said adviser platforms suffer from an "inherent conflict" because they are selected, and usually used, by the adviser while being paid for by the client. It said addressing this issue was a "high priority".
Also, in the platform market study's terms of reference, which were also published in July, the FCA said it wanted to "understand whether the benefits advisers secure from their platform are passed onto investors".
It also said: "To understand whether advised platforms compete in the interests of the end investor we will assess the factors which determine why advisers choose a platform on behalf of their clients."
Nucleus chief customer officer Barry Neilson, whose platform provides its Illuminate-branded training and events for advisers, said any benefit provided to an adviser has to be "of proportional value to the relationship" and must have a demonstrable benefit to the service they offer to their clients.
"We welcome that the area of inducements has been significantly tightened up by the FCA, a trend that will continue with the implementation of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II," he added.
"Assisting advisers to maintain the right level of knowledge, especially in the complex and often ambiguous world we operate in today, can help improve the likelihood of a successful customer outcome."
Neilson commented: "It is obviously key, however, that the training has substance and is genuinely intended to be relevant and knowledge or skill enhancing. A scenario where a 30-minute training session is followed by five hours of sipping Dom Perignon doesn't feel acceptable."
The FCA is planning to publish its interim report of the platform market study in the summer of 2018.
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