The Retail Distribution Review - meaning of advice
It is important when considering the VAT treatment of services in this area to understand the meaning of ‘advice’ for regulatory purposes. From a VAT perspective general financial advice is not synonymous with the term ‘advice’ for the purposes of the RDR rules. The RDR is primarily concerned with the distribution (i.e. sale) of financial products to the retail market. The RDR’s focus is ensuring that there is no hidden bias in product recommendations by ensuring that intermediaries (termed ‘advisers’) clearly disclose the nature of their service and set the level of their charges by reference to the amount of work done rather than being motivated by the level of fee associated with a particular product type or product provider.
The term ‘advice’ under RDR thus covers a broad range of functions including primarily recommendation, referral and intermediary work around product distribution which would continue to be VAT exempt under general principles. General financial advice would continue to be taxable in the same way.