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Financial advisers under scrutiny

Financial files Image copyright Science Photo Library

Money advice costs can be complicated and varied, consumer groups say, as the government opens a review into the sector.

The inquiry will consider consumers' access to financial advice - particularly the gap for those who do not have significant wealth.

It comes after the change in pension rules, which came into effect in April.

The changes, allowing access to pension savings, has prompted questions about the suitability of advice.

The review will consider all types of retail financial products including pensions, savings, mortgages, and insurance. It will publish its findings before next year's Budget.

"Making sure that our financial services sector supports working people at every stage of their lives is a key part of our long-term plan," said Harriett Baldwin, economic secretary to the Treasury.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "For financial services to work well it is absolutely vital that people get the affordable, impartial advice they need to make good choices with their money.

"So the government's review must be focused squarely on how to give consumers more power to make better financial decisions at all the important moments in their lives. The cost of advice can be complicated and varies widely, so it is critical that people know they are paying a fair price and do not feel frozen out of the market."

The review will be led by the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A review of the provision of free and impartial financial guidance, including the Money Advice Service and Pension Wise, will take place later in the year.

The Money Advice Service recently underwent a major review, which concluded that it needed to cut costs and be more focused in its work.

"Since then, our organisation has undergone major changes to its strategy and way of operating, adapting the way we do things to better meet the needs of consumers," said Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service.

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