The UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has warned advisers it could start charging for paper copies of regulatory invoices, or make online invoicing compulsory.
The FCA published a consultation paper today proposing to introduce a £50 fee for advisers requesting hard copies of invoices.
The FCA said: "As fewer fee-payers continue to opt for paper invoicing, any economies of scale are eroded and the costs per firm of printing and posting documents become more expensive.
If a small core of fee-payers continue to resist online invoicing, we may in the future consider making on-line invoicing mandatory."
"It is unreasonable for other fee-payers to continue to bear these additional costs. If a small core of fee-payers continue to resist online invoicing, we may in the future consider making on-line invoicing mandatory."
The FCA explained: "The work on individual firms varies. Some pay their invoices promptly, whereas others require chasing and several reminders. We consider £50 per firm represents a fair contribution per firm but our objective is not to recover our current administrative costs.
"Our objective is that all fee-payers should recognise the advantages of online invoicing and so move away from paper invoicing."
The watchdog continued: "We hope all fee-payers will opt for online invoicing without waiting to be charged but, in the meantime, the charge will save other firms from paying for the ones that do not.
The regulator said its preferred outcome is that all advisory firms use its online services to download invoices as needed.