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Mas unveils adviser criteria for at-retirement directory

A comprehensive list of criteria which financial advisers need to have to be included in the Money Advice Service’s at-retirement directory has been released today (15 December).

An independent panel of industry and consumer bodies have agreed the requirements for advisers wishing to be listed on the Mas directory and firms will be provided with details of how to register for the directory early in the new year.

Mas said that the directory aims to make it easier for consumers to find a regulated financial adviser specialising in retirement planning after the government’s pensions reforms come into force in April 2015.

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The criteria agreed by the majority of the panel is as follows:

• financial advisers on the directory must have the ability to provide regulated financial advice in either the ‘at retirement’ and/or ‘post retirement’ market;

• they will offer, as their primary business model, regulated advice which could be full, focused or simplified advice; and

• both restricted and independent advisers can have an entry in the directory, but restricted firms will be asked to confirm that advisers will consider all available providers within the market they have chosen to focus on.

Entry will be at firm level, with information about individual advisers who meet the entry criteria (and wish to be entered on the directory) also being shown.

Mas said that firms listed in the directory will be asked to commit to providing an initial no-obligation meeting, either by phone or face-to-face, for all customers approaching them through the directory.

A filtering process will be in operation, designed to match customers to firms that are able to provide them with the service, for example those with small pension pots will be matched to firms who have indicated they will deal with clients of any wealth limit.

The panel recognised that including information on fees and charges is highly desirable, however more work is needed to ensure fee information provided is accurate, meaningful and of real benefit to customers. Mas said this work will continue after the directory is launched.

At launch, the directory will provide generic information on adviser charging methods and examples of levels of fees charged for different transactions and advice.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of Mas, said: “We think it’s a fairly significant part of the offering next April, not just for Mas but more broadly.

“Inevitably I think facing the choices people will be facing from April probably more people are going to need regulated advice, and they need to know how to go about getting it, and it needs to be easy for them to do that, and of course that’s what’s behind the directory that we are building.”

“We expect to have it in place by April, we will be referring to it and we expect guaranteed guidance providers will be referring to it as well – that’s yet to be confirmed.”