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Backstage with Keith Richards

3rd May 2016

Making advice more accessible.


Since the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) report was handed down in March, I have been particularly heartened by my discussions with government, which appears committed to making professional financial advice more accessible.

This was evident again last week, when I met with the Treasury team responsible for delivering the government's proposed pension advice allowance. The tax break formed part of FAMR's list of recommendations, and if implemented will allow consumers to access £500 within their pension pot to redeem against the cost of pre-retirement advice.

Ahead of a formal consultation phase, it is absolutely clear and extremely pleasing that Treasury recognises the value of professional financial advice, and is seeking ways to remove barriers and improve access for consumers. Of course, whether accessing the allowance is in the best interests of an individual is a decision that would ultimately rest with advisers and their clients. But any move to increase the range of options available to those seeking professional advice at all stages of life should be welcomed by the profession and is a further endorsement of the value of advice.

The Treasury also advised me that it continued to progress on other matters affecting our profession including:

  • Consultation on changes to the UK definition of advice, to align with MiFID II, is due to take place in May/June
  • A Treasury team is being created to deliver the much discussed Pension Dashboard
  • Work continues on the £500 employer arranged allowance in support of financial advice, which is anticipated for implementation around the time of the 2017 Budget

The Treasury provided an update on current FCA activity including:

  • Work on the FSCS levy review is due to start imminently
  • FAMR's Advice Unit will be open for business this month
  • Consultation on streamlined advice, as set out in FAMR, will commence following implementation of MiFID II

The war for talent - join the discussion

In order to attract new blood into our profession, it is vital that we present attractive training programmes and career development opportunities to the best and brightest. A recent study from Vision Business Advisers found that the average age of advisers is 58, so there is clearly a real need to develop the next generation of financial advisers.

The Personal Finance Society recently asked members for feedback on a proposed specialist apprenticeship programme for the financial advice sector. There has never been a better time to choose professional advice as a career of first choice and a new apprenticeship, which we hope to launch in the summer, will increase entry options in addition to the more established graduate and second career routes. A well designed apprenticeship will play an important role in encouraging and nurturing talent in our profession.

We have already received more than 400 responses to the survey and I encourage you all to contribute to the discussion by responding via the link below before the survey closes on Friday, 6 May.

Celebrating success

Finally, I want to extend my congratulations to recent Chartered graduates of the St. James Place Academy programme, whose achievements were celebrated at a ceremony hosted at the Chartered Insurance Institute on 22 April. I offer all graduates my congratulations and best wishes for the next stage of their careers. 

Best wishes,



About the Blog

In this blog Personal Finance Society CEO Keith Richards will be keeping you up-to-date with all the Personal Finance Society news, projects and initiatives that we have in the works.

Read past editions of the blog »