Personal Pension  

Advisers raise concerns over Mas’s retirement directory

Advisers have questioned how the Money Advice Service’s directory of retirement advisers will be policed, and what the cost will be, following on from Mas unveiling its criteria for advisers to sign up.

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.

Both restricted and independent advisers will be able to list, however restricted firms will be asked to confirm that advisers will consider all available providers within the market they have chosen to focus on.

Firms will be provided with details of how to register for the directory early in the new year.

Andy Brooks, director at Brooks Wealth Management, questioned how advisers restricted to a certain number of providers can be seen to be giving the full breadth of retirement options.

“If they only offer a limited product range from specific providers then they might think they can meet this need, but it might not be in the spirit of the list if they are restricted in provider as well as market.”

A Mas spokesperson has since confirmed to FTAdviser that restricted advisers will need to look at the whole of the retirement market and cannot just look at a few providers’ offerings.

Mr Brooks also raised the point that there is not yet any detail of how the directory will be policed, questioning whether Mas would be responsible for checking the voracity of advisers’ expertise claims.

“Ultimately if everyone on the list is honest, it’s clear what is on offer and at what cost, then it has to be positive for the client and the industry, but if it ends up a confusing mess it will just damage us all.”

Graeme Mitchell, managing director at Lowland Financial, told FTAdviser that as an adviser concentrating on retirement over other areas, he was pleased to see that the directory would include restricted firms.

“To me the initial proposals look sensible, although it will all depend on the detail of course.

“I hope final plans include an opportunity for consumer feedback to Mas on adviser service and it’s also important that there is a geographical slant, especially now Scotland will have differences in terms of tax raising powers.”

He added that the directory would most likely be paid for via a subscription for entry onto it, something which he worried might preclude his involvement, depending on the price that is decided upon.

Adrian Murphy, partner at Murphy Wealth, also confirmed that it was something the firm would look at, although he added that “I am not convinced that those using the guidance service will be our target market”.

Harry Katz, principal at Norwest Consultants, told FTAdviser he would be steering well clear for similar reasons. He stated that the typical person using the service is “about as far from a typical client profile of mine than it is possible to be, with the exception of the unemployed.”