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FSA reveals confusion over fees for advice on finance

One-third of consumers believe financial advice is free, research from the Financial Services Authority suggests.

Next month the cost of advice will become transparent for the first time, rather than hidden in commission payments from providers to advisers, under the Government's retail distribution review (RDR).

But half of those who currently use an adviser believe there is no cost, according to the research.

A recent report by Deloitte claimed 500,000 people in Scotland will become "financial advice orphans" next month because they will be unwilling or unable to pay separate adviser charges. Among the high street banks, Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and RBS have all withdrawn most of their advice services for all but their wealthiest customers, while Santander last week said it had suspended the activities of its 800 adviser staff pending retraining.

The survey found 33% of respondents thought they were not charged. Just less than 30% said advice was paid for by an upfront fee, 14% said people paid a monthly or annual fee for it, while 24% said they did not know how advice was paid for.

The survey found 38% would never consider taking advice from a professional adviser, against 32% who would. Of the one in six who did receive financial advice, 49% believed it was free, and of the one in three considering it in future, 35% thought it would be free.

An FSA spokeswoman said: "The changes mean people will know how much advice costs and can make an informed decision about whether they think it is appropriate for them."

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