The advice sector has many reasons to be optimistic about the progress made by the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR), Personal Finance Society (PFS) chief executive Keith Richards has said.
Richards felt confident the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Treasury were on the right track to reaching their goal of closing the advice gap and making financial advice more accessible to the public.
On 11 April the FCA and Treasury published their first progress report on FAMR, outlining the main steps taken in the 13 months following its initial publication.
Many advisers were critical of FAMR's implementation timeline when it was published last March, with some labelling it inadequate and others claiming it was unrealistic.
But Richards (pictured) said he had felt "heartened" by the intent of the regulator and government throughout the process so far.
"I am confident that FAMR is on the right track, with the regulator and government continuing to express a commitment to deliver on its FAMR ambitions," he said.
He pointed to a number of successful developments over the last year, including the introduction of the £500 pensions advice allowance, the unveiling of a prototype pensions dashboard and the FCA's work on its advice unit, which has recently been expanded to include firms developing financial guidance-based solutions.
"Considering the scale of the task at hand, and the period of political instability in recent months, we have more reasons to be optimistic about the significance of the review and progress that has been made so far," Richards said.
"Although some of the key issues still need effective solutions, the government and FCA have introduced several measures, which will help to deliver FAMR's goal of bridging the advice gap," he added.
FSCS funding review
One such issue, which is still being reviewed, is the funding mechanism for the FSCS.
The system has long been one of the biggest bug-bears for advisers, many labelling it "unfair" because of its "good guys pay" setup.
To make matters worse, levies have been rising steadily over the years and further unrest could be on its way as more claims related to high risk investments in self-invested personal pensions (SIPP) are reaching the FSCS.
Richards had not approved of what he called an "unnecessarily narrow scope" of the funding review right from the start.
He was further disparaged by the FCA effectively ruling out the introduction of a product levy, which he, alongside many advisers, had campaigned for.
However, despite this he expressed confidence in the regulator's work on solving the issue.
"Reform to introduce balance, without taking away consumer protections, was always likely to take longer to arrive at and implement, but it is happening," he said.
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