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National advice firms accused of burying restricted status

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National advice firms accused of burying restricted status

National advice firms, including Towry and St. James’s Place, are not clear enough about the fact they offer restricted advice, according to IFA comparison site VouchedFor.co.uk.

VouchedFor.co.uk a site that lets consumers rate and review IFAs, found that only two out of eight of the largest financial advice firms in the UK which provide restricted advice, were explicit about their status on their websites.

The review examined the10 largest financial advice websites, eight of which now provide restricted advice.

VouchedFor.co.uk said that Towry, headed by chief executive Andrew Fisher (pictured) had ‘simply dropped’ the word independent from its website without adding the term restricted.

Towry's fees page has changed from stating ‘we charge fair and transparent fees for our independent financial advice’ to ‘we charge clear and transparent fees for our services’.

Similarly, St. James's Place, who did not claim to be independent pre-retail distribution review (RDR), has not added the word restricted to its website.

Close Brothers Asset Management and Skipton Financial Services have sections within their websites that mention they offer restricted advice. Close Brothers mentions it is a restricted firm on a page about the RDR and Skipton mentions it in a site-wide footer message.

AWD Chase de Vere and Hargreaves Lansdown were the only two of the larger firms to continue to offer independent advice.

Adam Price, founder of VouchedFor.co.uk, said: ‘We fear this lack of transparency combined with large firms’ marketing budgets may draw consumers unknowingly toward restricted advice.’

‘While it is possible restricted-advice firms could offer the client lower charges, by not incurring the cost of reviewing all investment options, our experience suggests this is often not the case. Moreover, some restricted-advice firms appear to be recommending their own in-house funds over better alternatives.’

‘Ultimately, the difficulty for consumers in comparing restricted-advice firms is that they have to determine how competitive that firm’s preferred investment funds are. That may defeat the purpose of seeking advice.’

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