‘Focus on retirement a boon for advisers’

The chairman of Isle of Wight-based specialist advice firm Annuity Direct, which was purchased by Fidelity last autumn, said the cost of good retirement advice often paled in comparison to the benefit delivered to clients in retirement.

Mr Higham said: “What may seem second nature to advisers will be highly valued by customers who would otherwise go it alone.

“Providing them with expert help will mean they could avoid making simple mistakes that cost them dearly.”

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He added that most advisers could add value as they normally reviewed the whole of market for annuity purchases, especially when looking at clients with medical conditions, while most DIY platforms were restricted to a limited number of providers.

Mr Higham also said advisers could add value by managing a mix of products to deliver the best retirement income and steer clients away from legacy products and providers, which may offer direct clients less favourable terms.

He said that “a good adviser back office can help key processes and add real value to the advice process”. It could also spot potential annuity pitfalls in small print, such as quotes which were not guaranteed.

Mr Higham also claimed that clients could benefit from an adviser’s insight on whether to take tax free cash or not. An advisers could also ensure that clients understood the fee structure when buying an annuity, something which may not be apparent for those buying them directly.

Adviser View

Graeme Mitchell, managing director of Scottish Borders-based firm Lowland Financial, said: “People are now getting the message that they should shop around and look at all options for at retirement. Advisers can help people make the best of their plans at the margins.”