Consumers Misled By IFAs Boasting False Credentials

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

A shocking revelation from consumer watchdogs reveals that a year after first exposing bogus financial advisers, official web sites are still listing rogues claiming qualifications they do not have.

Money magazine Which scrutinised 43 advice firms listed on financial portal Unbiased claiming to employ certified financial planners and found 27 (63%) had no such qualified staff.

Out of 72 firms claiming chartered financial planner status, a fifth (19%) did not employ any chartered advisers.

And seven out of 24 firms advertising they were accredited to the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) did not have this certification.

Unbiased matches independent financial advisers with consumers.

Checking claims

“When you find an adviser through Unbiased, you know they are unbiased. Every adviser listed here is qualified, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and independent of product providers,” says the Unbiased web site.

However, they might not have the qualifications and accreditations they say they have.

Karen Barrett, CEO and founder of Unbiased said: “Unbiased remains the most thoroughly checked adviser database in the UK. Since the discovery of some inaccurate qualifications listed on the site, we have checked a high proportion of the advisers listed with us, and are actively working with the qualification bodies to verify even more.

“Currently we are still querying over 2,000 outstanding qualifications and accreditations held by 27,000 professionals, and we are working to find a good solution to check them more efficiently.”

Serious concerns

Which also revealed advisers on web sites VouchedFor and the Money Advice Service claimed qualifications they did not possess.

VouchedFor also told us that it plans to require advisers to upload scans of their certificates.

On the Money Advice Service directory, 16% claiming they were certified, 9% claiming they were chartered and 5% claiming SOLLA accreditation did not appear to hold the qualifications.

Harry Rose, Which Money Editor said: “Our findings raise serious questions for the advice sector. If potential customers can’t trust the information in the public domain about prospective advisers, how can they reliably shop around for the right one?

“Adviser directories, accrediting bodies and advisers themselves must ensure listings are correct, so consumers can confidently compare different advisers.”

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