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‘First, do no harm’ is an injunction generally attributed to the medical profession, and it is a useful one. The phrase sprang to mind in examining the SRA’s plan to scrap the requirement for solicitors to refer clients only to wholly independent financial advisers.
As SIFA has ruefully noted, this will potentially expose clients and the Compensation Fund to the breed of aggressive salesperson at banks and other financial services providers which is presently making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Interest-rate swap anyone? Payment protection insurance?
There is an irony here. The very essence of outcomes-focused regulation is that ‘prescription is proscribed’. Yet it seems the SRA is wielding the very concept of OFR as a prescriptive tool in its own right, scrapping sensible and civilised protections on purely doctrinaire grounds. This is precisely what happened with the trainee minimum salary.
We asked the SRA on what grounds it could ever be in a client’s best interests to be referred to a ‘restricted’ adviser, which is surely the crux of the matter. Please write and let us know what you think of its reply. The Gazette would like to foster a vigorous debate on this subject before a final decision is made.
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