MPs complained people needed a degree in orienteering to find advice firms on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register. Now the regulator has responded by building its own postcode search tool.
The register now features a directory, which allows users to search for advice firms by postcode and by service provided, with tick boxes for mortgages, investments, pensions and debts. Find it here.
It also flags unauthorised firms in red with an accompanying note which reads: 'We strongly suggest you avoid dealing with this firm.'
The function shows when authorised firms are subject to requirements or restrictions on the services they can provide, and highlights that these can include suspensions.
Firm-level details displayed include firm reference number, email, phone number and address, and each authorised firm and appointed representative entry features a list of the firm's investment types. This function is disabled for unauthorised companies.
Details of appointed representatives and introducers are listed and enable users to see details on any parent companies.
Below all introducer firms is a statement, which reads: 'This is a firm that can introduce customers to another firm or members of the firm's group, and/or give out certain kinds of marketing material.'
The regulator published a consultation paper in July, which proposed a directory offering consumers a more user-friendly means of checking the status and history of advisers they are considering dealing with.