The risks of pro bono work
Government regulations are making some advisers reluctant to carry out personalised advice on a pro bono basis, Institute of Financial Advisers president Nigel Tate says.
Wednesday, August 15th 2012, 7:01AM 1 Comment
by Niko Kloeten
The Code of Conduct for Authorised Financial Advisers makes no distinction between advice paid for and advice given for free and according to Tate this makes pro bono advice too risky and time-consuming if done on a personalised basis, which requires a written plan.
This, he said, could take up to a day to complete, with a couple of hours spent on data collection from the client and up to four hours on plan writing.
He said the issue had been highlighted in the lead-up to the first annual Money Week, run by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, which will take place in the first week of September.
More than 50 advisers have already signed up to donate their time for the event, but they will be providing only generic "class advice" to those who come seeking their services.
Tate said if the people who used the free service wanted personalised advice they would probably have to pay for it, although it was up to each adviser to decide and advice could be given at a discount.
However, Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said the aim of the event was more to provide information and get people thinking about financial issues affecting their lives, rather than about making specific investment plans.
"It's about raising awareness; for some people talking to someone one on one is a very good thing to do. The IFA is offering to have one-on-ones with people who may not have thought about insurance or wills or managing their debts."
The response from advisers had been "fantastic" and would add "another dimension" to the week, Crossan said.
"Some people will come in with a question that can be easily answered while others will be saying, ‘where do I start?'"
The FMA said the focus of its first 15 months had been "overseeing the new regulatory environment which requires all financial advisers to be licensed or registered, including QFE advisers.
"In the pro bono area, some Canterbury-based AFAs have volunteered to provide a free financial advice service for red zone residents. There are protocols around the type and limits of the advice they are providing and the AFAs involved are subject to legal and regulatory obligations from which they are not exempt.
"Free advice offered during Money Week will be subject to those same obligations."
Niko Kloeten can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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