The FCA has urged advisers not to use templated objectives with clients.
Speaking at the Money Marketing Interactive conference in Harrogate this morning, co-director of life insurance and financial advice Debbie Gupta said planners should not just set out aims “for the client to tick”.
Gupta encouraged advisers to use the client’s own phrasing, and to use soft facts to build a clearer picture of why the advice was suitable.
“Be brave. Challenge clients,” Gupta said. “It isn’t your role just to take orders.
“If information is missing or incomplete you will struggle to illustrate that the advice was suitable.”
Gupta discussed the FCA’s work on defined benefit pension transfers, using the example of cases where simply wanting flexibility was listed as an objective, that this was “not enough” to evidence suitability.
She noted the FCA had seen instances around British Steel where workers had met with advisers for just half an hour before transferring their DB pension.
Gupta said: “Our focus is a simple one: has the client received suitable advice?
“Consumers are responsible more and more for making choices about how they invest their retirement savings. As our population ages these choices become ever more critical. They impact massively on the quality of life that these people will have in their later years.
“Bad choices based on poor quality advice can’t be easily undone or reversed. And poor retirement outcomes for these customers can be devastating. That’s a concern for the FCA, it’s a concern for government.”