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Unbiased urges FCA to act on Which? false qualifications findings

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Unbiased is calling on the FCA to intervene after a Which? investigation found more than half of firms listed on its website had inaccurate qualification information.

Which? looked at IFAs in 10 postcodes in February this year and compared those who claimed to have professional qualifications on Unbiased with official lists from the bodies themselves.

Of the 92 firms who said they were accredited by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments, only 36 appeared on the official list.

In addition, only six of the 21 firms who claimed to have the BS 8577 certification – the standard for personal and corporate financial advice – appear to hold it, Which? says.

Lastly, 13 out of 39 firms were found to have no advisers with ISO 22222. This defines the financial planning process and specifies ethical behaviour, competences and experience requirements.

Unbiased chief executive Karen Barrett says the sample was small and that consumer detriment was likely to be low as the data was mainly from its free listing service.

She adds the regulator needs to step in to solve the “industry-wide” issue.

“We think that people listing incorrect or outdated qualifications is an industry-wide issue. It is up to advisers to update when they leave us or move firm, we know there is a lot of churn and that feeds into the data bugs found here.

“We’re thinking about how as an industry we can tackle this. We think a centralised verification system is needed as this would solve the issue immediately. If the FCA could start listing who is independent, restricted and what type of restrictions as well as qualifications that would be a great resource for everyone.

“We’ve manually checked over 50 per cent of the 50,000 qualifications and accreditations we list across 24,000 individuals, that’s a massive undertaking.”

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