Independent advice firm Penguin Wealth is the latest to reveal plans for a web-based advice service launch targeted at small-pot clients that have been left in the cold by the Retail Distribution Review, backed by an £85,000 government grant.
Craig Palfrey, certified financial planner at the Cardiff-based intermediary, said the website, www.increaseyourpension.co.uk, will provide clients with lower levels of investible assets free guidance on pensions options and a free analysis report on how their existing products are performing.
Mr Palfrey said the firm had received an £85,000 grant from the devolved Welsh Assembly government as part of its Welsh Economic Growth Fund, which is expected “any day now”.
Funding of up to £100,000 are provided under the scheme to promote business and social enterprise in Wales and thus support economic growth in the region. Mr Palfrey said his firm was awarded the grant as the Welsh government is seeking “to help financial services, financial planning and help attract new entrants [to the sector]”.
Increaseyourpension will charge no initial fees, with clients only parting with money for charges to cover any transactions they subsequently undertake. Clients can also email pension-related questions to advisers via the website.
Mr Palfrey said: “It is free guidance and we want people to take advantage of the initial reports. They will get a free report with all the options that apply to give them as much information as possible. Clearly we want them to transact with us but if they don’t that is fine as well.
“There is a cost if they transact but that will be fully disclosed in the report.”
The FCA has previously raised concerns over contingent advice models where remuneration is fully dependent on clients transacting new business.
The business providing the advice offered through the website is Get Financial Advice, which is a trading name of Penguin Wealth. It is a direct-to-market, transactional business, Mr Palfrey added.
He said the firm has just taken on two new members of staff who will be manning the phones for increaseyourpension, both of whom are trainee advisers.
Mr Palfrey said: “Clients will speak to a trainee adviser who will have their RO4 paper by the end of this week. They all have their RO1 and all advice will be signed off by a fully qualified adviser.
“We have replicated the process to make speaking to an adviser as simple as possible. We want them to talk about all areas, not just pensions, but first is pensions as there are billions in with-profit funds etc.
“They will get initial advice and communication going forward if that is what they want.”
This is the first of four websites that Penguin plans on launching in 2014.
Mr Palfrey said: “We are launching a second website in March/April on reviewing with-profits fund and then another two later in the year – review your funds and investments and protect your family,
“All the websites are aimed at lower value clients – they may attract higher value but that is not the aim.”