After a period of extensive consultation, the FSA has announced that from the beginning of 2013, investment advisors must hold accreditation in order to operate in the UK.
Advisors will need to hold a ‘Statement of Professional Standing’ if they want to give independent or restricted advice from 2013, and the statement will provide customers with evidence that the advisor subscribes to a code of ethics, is qualified, and has kept their knowledge up-to-date. The rules cover independent advisors as well as those working for institutions and this means that advisors employed by banks and insurance firms will also need to be accredited.
However, the first rules will come into force in July 2011, and from this point firms will be obliged to notify the FSA if any of their advisors falls below the required standard of competence or ethical behaviour.
Alexandra Kelly is MD of HireRight’s background screening operations in EMEA, and also MD and founder of Powerchex, the only London-based pre-employment screening provider specialising in Financial Services:
'The FSA is serious about the Fitness and Propriety of those people who are selling financial products in the UK, and I believe they will be looking to make an example of any company which fails to demonstrate that they are doing everything they can to ensure that customers are being protected.'
'Earlier this week, the FSA ordered a major high-street bank to pay £7.7m in fines and £60m compensation because it decreed that staff gave poor advice, exposing customers to more risk than they were comfortable with,' continues Kelly. 'This really spells out the importance of appropriate and thorough employee due-diligence practices; this is not simply a prudent business practice, but a requirement for any company serious about protecting its customers and avoiding the attentions of the regulator.'
Powerchex (powerchex.co.uk) is the UK’s premier pre-employment screening firm for financial institutions. Based in the City of London, Powerchex checks the background, employment history, criminal records and professional qualifications of applicants on behalf of financial institutions. It sets the industry benchmark of 5 days for a background check.
Powerchex is a HireRight Company.