The websites, which are fast becoming the primary way advisers attract clients, said they regularly check all advisers in their directories against the regulator’s register.
This is to confirm that all advisers on the site are properly regulated, still working for their firm, and their contact information is correct.
However, both Unbiased and VouchedFor are calling on the FCA to provide details on whether an adviser is restricted or independent.
At the moment, both directories ask advisers to self-certify their status.
Hard to verify
Alex Whitson, chief marketing officer for VouchedFor, said the problem with self-certification is that there is currently no standard for documents or certificates when it comes to proving an adviser is independent or restricted.
“This is something we are keen for the FCA to change. At the moment advisers need to disclose whether they are restricted or not at some point before a consumer becomes a paying client, which means it could happen at the 11th hour,” he said.
“This isn’t helpful for clients who want independent advice but who don’t know to ask the question in their first meeting.” he said.
Whitson adds that clients might be “better served” if the FCA required advisers’ to disclose their status upfront, explaining that verifying an adviser’s status is currently hard to do.
“We have made many suggestions to the FCA that they list advisers’ independent and restricted status, as we could then easily include this within our checks.
“This is a key step in making this information more available to consumers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Unbiased’s chief executive Karen Barrett said she would welcome it if the FCA provided information on who is independent and restricted.
“I don’t understand why the regulator can’t do this,” she said.
“We are unable to go through all of our listings and make a decision about whether they are independent or not because we don’t have that backstop in terms of the FCA data telling us.”