The Money Advice Service (MAS) has issued an apology to the Personal Finance Society (PFS) and its members over comments made by the service's chief executive Caroline Rookes last week.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour party conference last week, Rookes questioned advisers’ ethics.
In answer to a question Rookes (pictured) said: ‘Am I worried about the ethics of regulated advisers? Personally, yes. But I know that they are regulated, nothing is going to change that. I think if anything the Financial Conduct Authority will be tougher on them to ensure they are doing what they should.’
The comments sparked outrage from advisers and led PFS chief executive Keith Richards to rebuke Rookes for what she said.
He said: ‘A lot has changed over the last few years, especially from a professionalism perspective, and it is time that more balanced comments were made by key figures and consumer-facing groups to reflect the true picture.’
Later that week the MAS attempted to clarify what Rookes said.
It said: ‘Caroline certainly did not intend to imply that advisers' ethics are questionable. She was agreeing with another participant at the event that all advisers need to operate ethically to ensure the highest standards so that customers can consistently get the best outcome.’
However, the service has now gone further and issued an apology for the offense caused by Rookes’ remarks.
In a statement sent to the PFS the MAS said: ‘We are very disappointed that Caroline's comments during a fringe meeting at a Labour party conference have been misrepresented as an attack on the ethics of advisers and would like to apologise if this has caused offence to advisers.
‘The regulated advice community plays a vital role in helping consumers and we believe that it operates to very high ethical standards.
‘That is why we are committed to building greater links with regulated advisers and are looking to develop a new directory of regulated advisers, to make it easier for consumers of both our service and the government's new retirement guidance facility, to access more detailed and specialist advice if they need it.’