Different disciplines… shared responsibilities
Gemma Harle is managing director of TenetLime
As an industry, we are used to focusing on the challenges around the provision of quality advice and how we can best keep pace with ever-changing customer requirements.
The recent MMR review (TR15/9), highlighted one which I thought was particularly valid: making sure clients are better informed and educated about the variety of options and products available to them in the marketplace – as opposed to being directed along a route that fits with the adviser’s pre-conceived ideas.
For example, advisers may offer limited product ranges, or weight certain products in a way which is not transparent to the end consumer.
More than two thirds of mortgages are now sold on an intermediated basis. However, the FCA say they have concerns about the quality and suitability of advice provided by some firms, who failed to ensure they had sufficient understanding of their customers’ needs and circumstances on which to base their recommendations.
Other firms placed heavy reliance on completion of point-of-sale application systems, allowing little flexibility for advisers to apply judgement or adapt delivery to meet individual customer’s needs.
According to the FCA, both approaches result in unintended consequences, which impact on the customer experience or the suitability of recommendations provided.
The paper also drew attention to advisers favouring access to a limited number of products and providers, perhaps to the detriment of the consumer.
Brokers must avoid going into ‘solution’ mode before they get the key facts. The appropriate analysis, tools and technology must be employed to ensure the best possible customer outcomes.
The challenge for both networks and DAs is making sure they have the right infrastructure in place to support continued growth and progression.
Despite the fact they operate different disciplines, both are accountable to the FCA, both share the same core challenges and both are dedicated to raising standards in the sector.
Each has their own USP: networks are better placed to introduce new blood into the industry, larger DAs earn respect for their technical efficiencies and smaller DAs are renowned for the personal touch they bring to the table.