Advice Unit

The Advice Unit provides regulatory feedback to firms developing automated models to deliver lower cost advice and guidance to consumers.

Advice Unit services

We provide 2 main services to firms:

Individual regulatory feedback

Firms that meet the Advice Unit’s eligibility criteria will be given regulatory feedback on their model. This could include:

  • an initial meeting with the Advice Unit, and other specialist areas of the FCA if needed, to discuss the proposition
  • for firms requesting ongoing engagement, a dedicated point of contact in the Advice Unit to provide regulatory input at agreed milestones
  • specific feedback on the regulatory implications of the model – this could include follow-up meetings with relevant FCA staff to discuss specific issues, informal steers, and individual guidance as appropriate
  • input on how to apply for authorisation if the firm is currently unauthorised

The feedback will focus on helping the firm understand the regulatory implications of their model. Firms’ senior management remain responsible for ensuring they adhere to the relevant regulatory requirements.

It will also be possible for firms to ask for input from the Financial Ombudsman Service on the factors it may take into account when considering a potential complaint relating to advice given through an automated model. This will give firms an additional perspective to inform the design of their proposition.

Published tools and resources for all firms

We are publishing tools and resources for all firms developing automated advice or guidance propositions, based on our experiences with individual firms.

Advice Unit scope

Until 29 June 2017, the Advice Unit focused on models aiming to serve gaps in the current advice market identified by the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR), including:

  • investments
  • pensions (accumulation and decumulation)
  • protection

Our remit also now includes firms developing automated models within the mortgage, general insurance and debt sectors.

The Advice Unit will in addition now accept firms that want to provide guidance instead of regulated advice, as well as firms not intending to seek authorisation.

Firms with innovative advice or guidance models in sectors not covered by the Advice Unit can apply to Direct Support.

Consumer protection

Feedback from the Advice Unit will not reduce any of the existing consumer protections that apply in the UK, including our threshold conditions and standards for authorising firms.

Consumers who engage with authorised firms providing automated models will continue to have the same protection by the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme as they would do under more traditional models.

Contact the Advice Unit

You can email the Advice Unit at [email protected] or call 0800 458 4161.