A new standard for financial advice is now available for public consultation and views are being sought from practitioners, firms and consumer organisations. Developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) with industry experts and consumer bodies, BS 8577 – financial advice and planning services – is aimed at helping firms, banks and independent financial advisers operate efficient and fair financial planning and advice services.
Expected to publish by summer 2012, the standard will provide a benchmark for best practice and will help ensure that consumer interests are protected. The standard will be applicable to those offering personal, corporate or business financial planning but may also benefit organisations providing ‘over-the-counter’ advice.
The standard will be a timely aid to those who will be affected by the new regulatory environment planned for 2013 as a result of the FSA’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR).
Unlike professional standards for individual competence, such as the ISO Standard for Personal Financial Planning (BS ISO 22222), BS 8577 will cover the management of a firm, incorporating all aspects that support the provision of advice services. BS 8577 is, however, intended to complement the ISO standard and underpin its principles of professionalism by providing a means to review competencies and establish a financial planning process. For advisers currently working to BS ISO 22222 the new standard sets out a management framework that will enable their firms to support them in their roles by allocating the necessary resources and adopting a top-down approach.
Fay Goddard, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Personal Finance Society, said: “This new standard will be a useful benchmark for firms wishing to ensure they provide the right support and business environment for their financial advisers and planners. The overarching principles and policies underpin good business practice, which complement the requirements of the RDR.”
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