The organisation’s researchers found just two advisers, out of 17 contacted across nine firms, to be offering acceptable advice.
Which? reports seven advisers failed to discuss whether SRB was the right option for the consumer and six of these went on to give quotes, while one adviser gave a quote that would not have left the consumer enough money to pay off their debts.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, says: “It’s simply unacceptable that people are receiving shoddy advice about such a huge financial decision.
“Not only are regulated firms not doing enough to ensure vulnerable consumers make the right choices, some are offering SRB that aren’t authorised to do so. The FSA must tighten the screw on these firms to make sure the rules are followed and consumers are protected.”
Bill Warren, managing director at Bill Warren Compliance LLP, which has several SRB clients, says he is not surprised by the investigation’s findings.
He says: “The nature of the market means those seeking SRB may be in serious financial difficulty so it is not unexpected for an adviser to offer a quote that doesn’t cover a all of a consumer’s debts, but firms offering poor quality of advice is a serious issue.
“I expect the FSA to take a hard line with the companies reported to it, as the body has been fairly strict since it began fully regulating this market.
“But overall, the majority of SRB firms are conscious of the FSA regulations.”