By Jonathan Davies

Banks and investment companies could be forced to provide cheap financial advice for those deemed not rich enough to afford it from traditional financial advisers.

The government has launched a review into the industry after it became worried that only the rich can afford financial advice.

Pensioners who are considering making investments other than annuities are already eligible for free financial advice. But the government is to review how it could be opened up to the rest of the public.

"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 Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will lead the review. One option thought to be considered is an increased remit for the government's independent Money Advice Service.