Partnership: Consumers best interests must not be overlooked

The challenge for 2013 must be to ensure that the consumer’s best interests are not overlooked as significant regulatory and legislative change faces the industry, Partnership has said.

In an interview with FTAdviser, Jim Boyd, director of corporate affairs for Partnership, said that during 2012, Partnership has campaigned to raise awareness of the impact of RDR on advice for those with small pension pots.

Mr Boyd said: “Partnership supports the principles underpinning the RDR, however we are concerned that the unintended consequences of implementation may result in those on modest incomes being priced out or excluded from the advice market.”

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This has given rise to constructive engagement with senior opinion formers and policy makers ranging from consumer groups, the media, parliamentarians and the industry, he said.

The International Longevity Commission – UK published two reports addressing this issue. The last provides priority practical solutions agreed by leading industry experts to address the advice gap, for example ensuring that information is tailored to consumer needs not those of the industry.

Mr Boyd said: “Our aim in 2013 is to ensure that these proposals receive the political support from government that they deserve to drive real and sustainable change. The aim is to ensure that consumers can enjoy superior retirement income.”

Another pressing challenge is ensuring that the Scrutiny Committee for the Draft Care and Support Bill, which reports in March 2013, explicitly mentions “financial” information and advice as part of the information and advice offer, according to Mr Boyd.

He said: “We have campaigned throughout 2012 with policymakers, government, charities and local authorities to raise the importance of information and advice for self-funders. We are delighted that the Draft Bill reflects our lobby and particularly the focus on information and advice and the duty placed on local authorities to provide information and advice to all citizens regardless of their financial situation. However this must explicitly refer to ‘financial information and advice.

“Without financial information and advice self-funders risk buying the wrong financial product to fund their care fees or no financial product, and in turn may deplete their capital prematurely. This need not happen.”