UK parliamentary committee amendment will provide clarity on advice-guidance blurred lines
Chair of the Treasury Committee Harriet Baldwin has tabled an amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill which would put ‘personal financial guidance’ into law.
The change would create a system to provide savers and investors guidance based on their circumstances.
Protections for advice firms will also be part of the changes, as long as they do not recommend a specific product or course of action since this would be deemed as ‘regulated advice’.
Baldwin’s amendment defines ‘Personalised financial guidance’ as a service that:
- Is made to a person in their capacity as an investor or potential investor, or in their capacity as agent for an investor or a potential investor;
- Constitutes a recommendation to them to buy, sell, subscribe for, exchange, redeem, hold or underwrite a particular investment which is a security, structured deposit or a relevant investment; or exercise or not exercise any right conferred by such an investment to buy, sell, subscribe for, exchange or redeem such an investment; and
- Is based on a consideration of the circumstances of that person; and not explicitly presented as suitable for the person to whom it is made.
Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said: “While in an ideal world everyone would get regulated financial advice based on their personal circumstances, for a variety of reasons this will never be possible.
“The challenge therefore facing government, regulators and the industry is how to ensure as many people as possible are helped to make the most of their savings and investments. This amendment, if enacted, has the potential to enable substantial improvements in the way information and guidance is provided to non-advised savers.
“As things stand, the point at which guidance ends and advice begins is unclear, meaning those engaging with savers and investors on a non-advised basis – including employers, government organisations and financial services firms – often take a cautious approach when communicating. This is particularly the case where that interaction involves any consideration of someone’s personal circumstances.
“This results in the millions of people who don’t take advice receiving largely generic guidance which, while useful, has natural limitations. Creating a new regime which explicitly allows for more tailored communications has the potential to spur a cultural change which would benefit millions of savers.
“This should also benefit advisers in the long-run, as a better-informed public will be more likely to appreciate the complexity of the financial decisions they take, particularly around retirement, and many will want to seek professional help when navigating through that complexity.”