Ward Williams Financial Services Ltd is a firm that provides Independent Advice and all of its advisers will provide advice that is Independent.
Ward Williams Financial Services Ltd has always provided advice that is independent since the company was formed as a financial services company in 2003.
We believe that, where possible, providing Independent Advice is the optimum way to ensure that our clients receive the best and most suitable advice and recommendations that are available.
Part of the aim of the Retail Distribution Review that came into force in January 2013 was to improve clarity to consumers about the different types of advice that are on offer. The FCA (a newly formed entity from part of the FSA) has set a new standard for independent investment advice aimed at ensuring that the advice is genuinely independent. This means that a firm that holds itself out to be Independent, like Ward Williams Financial Services Ltd, needs to consider a broad range of products when giving advice. Some firms in the past have called themselves Independent when they have only recommended packaged products and this will no longer be allowed.
A firm giving Independent advice will need to provide advice which is unbiased and unrestricted, and based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the relevant market. It is designed to reflect the idea of a genuinely independent adviser being free from any restrictions that could impact on their ability to recommend whatever is best for the consumer.
The new definition of retail investment products means that advisers will need to include in their review of the market, not just life products and Collective Investment Schemes (CIS), but also products such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), structured investment products, unregulated collective investments schemes, investment trusts and any other investment that offers exposure to underlying assets, but in a packaged form which modifies that exposure compared with a direct holding in the financial asset.
The FCA expects an Independent adviser to be able to advise on the full range of products which may be suitable for their client. Advisers who deem themselves as Independent will need to demonstrate how they have reviewed the market and selected products in line with the client's attitude to risk and suitability. They do not expect a firm to review the market for a product which does not meet the client's needs and objectives and advisers can still use panels to help review the market.
The advising firm needs to inform their clients before providing advice whether they are Independent or providing Restricted advice.
Restricted advice is advice which is not independent and it will have to be labelled as restricted. (e.g. advice on a limited range of products or providers). Firms that give restricted advice are still required to meet suitability requirements. Also, it is not acceptable for a firm to make a recommendation for a product that most closely matches the needs of a consumer from the restricted range of products they offer when that product is not suitable.
‘As a firm, and as individuals, we intend to behave towards our clients in a way that is honest, open and competent and with integrity always acting in the best interests of the client, having ensured that we have an informed understanding of their needs and desires.’