On 15 February 2024, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requested information from several financial services firms concerning their delivery of ongoing services, for which their clients continue to be charged after advice has been given.

The survey asks whether firms have assessed their ongoing services in light of the introduction of the Consumer Duty, and whether they have made any changes as a result. It also requests data on the number of clients due a review of the ongoing suitability of the advice as part of the service, how many received that review, and how many paid for ongoing advice but whose fee was refunded as the suitability review did not happen.

This information is being collected to help the FCA assess what, if any, further regulatory work it might undertake in this area. Around 20 of the largest advice firms have received the survey so that the FCA can gain the widest possible understanding of market practice.

The survey follows the FCA’s publication in 2021 of a strategy intended to support a thriving consumer investment market. An FCA letter in December 2022 set out its concerns that advice firms were not adequately considering the relevance, nature and costs of these ongoing services for all their clients, and indicated that it would carry out some cross-firm work in this area. An additional letter in January 2023 explained how firms should approach the incoming Consumer Duty. Subsequently, in a Consumer Duty webinar with firms in December 2023, the FCA flagged concerns that it appeared some consumers may be paying for a service that they were not receiving.

As such, the data requested by the FCA contributes to a broader programme of work aimed at raising standards so that people can invest with confidence. Central to this is ensuring people can access advice if they need it and have trust in the services they are offered.

Next steps

The FCA anticipates providing a further update once it has considered the firm’s responses.