Intrinsic puts pressure on IFAs following independence audit

Some advisers did not meet regulatory independence requirements

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Intrinsic puts pressure on IFAs following independence audit

Intrinsic has audited the independent advisers of its network and subsidiary Positive Solutions and asked those it deemed non-compliant to rectify the shortfalls or become restricted.

The network audited all of its IFAs, alongside those of national IFA Positive Solutions, which it bought in 2013.

It found some of the advisers did not meet regulatory independence requirements, which dictate advisers must provide unbiased and unrestricted advice based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the market and be able to consider all retail investment products.

It gave those it deemed non-compliant time to make changes over the summer, before it reviews the firms on a case-by-case basis and decides whether to allow them to continue as IFAs.

Those who do not make appropriate changes, and do not want to adopt a restricted model, may be asked to leave the business, a spokesperson said. He added the company did not expect any such cases.

Intrinsic and its subsidiary Positive Solutions were bought by Old Mutual Wealth in early 2014. Old Mutual's latest annual results showed sales of platform products through the Intrinsic restricted advice panel have grown consistently and now account for 25% of its £1.1bn UK platform cashflow.

The network currently houses 3,380 advisers, of which 1,230 are restricted. This includes 220 restricted former Sesame Bankhall advisers, who transitioned into the group - Sesame's preferred partner following the closure of its investment advice network - in the year.

A similar clampdown on IFAs occurred in October 2014, when network Financial Ltd said it would give its advisers an ultimatum on alternative investments, which are part of their whole of market research obligation.

Financial Ltd said it was planning to test its independent advisers' knowledge on unregulated collective investment schemes (UCIS) and, if they failed, would ask them to become restricted.

Director Brian Galvin wrote to advisers at the time, telling them: "The FCA is taking this [independence rules] very seriously and so are we. To that end we will be contacting you to ask what you have in place to ensure your knowledge and ability in this area [UCIS] or to take confirmation of your restricted status."

Financial Ltd had previously been subjected to a landmark recruitment ban by the regulator after the FCA found firms had failed to ensure their appointed representatives and individual advisers were adequately supervised and controlled.

An Intrinsic spokesperson said: "Positive Solutions and Intrinsic have ongoing measures in place to monitor advice processes and documentation in order to ensure the high standards set across the network continue to be met.

"Earlier this year the business conducted a due-diligence exercise to ensure independent advisers were continuing to meet the requirements of the regulatory definition of independence. This work began in February, with field staff working closely with advisers throughout the process.

"The project identified some advisers needed to make changes to ensure they were able to continue to demonstrate full independence. The network has since been working with advisers to help them make the necessary adjustments in order to retain their independent status. Some advisers have decided to move to our restricted model, where they feel it will allow them to deliver better outcomes for their clients. The network is also working with those advisers to support that transition.

"The independence audit is an ongoing project and we will continue to work with all our advisers, whether independent or restricted, in order to ensure we deliver good customer outcomes and support firms to meet their regulatory obligations."

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