Advisers have been listing incorrect details about their firm's qualifications on major directories such as Unbiased, VouchedFor and the Money Advice Service, an investigation by consumer body Which? has found.
The findings come over a year since Which? carried out its first major qualification check, and six months since New Model Adviser® also found inaccurate information on chartered statuses, as well as firms listed who had had regulatory permissions changed.
- Which? Money looked at 43 advice firms listed on Unbiased, which stated they employed certified financial planners. It said 27 of these firms (63%) did not in fact employ certified financial planners.
- It also looked at 72 firms claiming to have advisers with chartered financial planner status. Which? found 14 (19%) of these firms did not employ any chartered advisers.
- Out of 24 firms claiming to be accredited with the Society of Later Life Advisers (Solla) seven were found to not in fact have this award.
The discovery comes over a year since Which? carried out a similar exercise, in which it emerged 61% of the firms on Unbiased’s database claiming to be accredited with the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment, did not actually hold the accreditations they claimed to. At the time Unbiased said it would work on cleaning up the incorrect listings.
It is also six months since New Model Adviser® discovered firms on Unbiased falsely listing themselves as having chartered status. Unbiased told New Model Adviser® in May it was considering changing its system for verifying credentials.
Unbiased said advice firms can select the status themselves when they register with the site, at that point it is double checked by Unbiased with the help of the awarding bodies.
However, New Model Adviser® also revealed in May that a number of advice firms which have had their permissions restricted by the Financial Conduct Authority were also listed on the database.
Which? said its latest review also found inaccurate information about qualifications on VouchedFor and the MAS Retirement Adviser Directory website. On VouchedFor, of 21 advisers claiming to be chartered, two were not. The two advisers it found claiming to be Solla accredited were not on its official list.
On the MAS directory, Which? found false results for 16% of those claiming to be certified, 9% claiming chartered status and 5% listing Solla accreditation.
Reacting to the latest report, Unbiased chief executive Karen Barrett told Which? her company is currently working with accrediting bodies to check the accuracy of its listings.
She said most of the inaccuracies were in free profiles.
Kevin Moore, director of global business at the CISI, told Which? ‘We are extremely concerned to see the results of this report’.