Personal Pension  

Webb praises new pension ‘guidance’ qualification

JLT Employee Benefits and the Pensions Management Institute have launched a new pension qualification, which the pensions minister says “will help to deliver one of the key requirements of the pension reforms”.

The certificate in pension member scheme guidance is designed to test an individual’s knowledge of pensions and related benefits, and has been certified by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations as level 4.

The organisations said that the qualification provides both the theoretical and practical knowledge on pension options, with a final oral exam to test the individual’s skill in dealing with member enquiries.

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It is aimed at any individual involved in helping members of both defined contribution and defined benefit pension schemes to understand their pension choices and enable them to make better decisions at various life and change events, such as the run up to retirement.

To begin with, roughly 25 candidates have taken the first course. Successful candidates from the course will be announced and will receive their certificates from the PMI at a ceremony on 17 December.

Vince Linnane, chief executive of the PMI, said that the organisation would shortly release further information on how the qualification will be rolled out nationally.

Pensions minister Steve Webb, said: “I welcome this new qualification, which will help to deliver one of the key requirements of the pension reforms, namely that those who provide guidance can show that they have the knowledge and skills to help scheme members understand their pension options and make more informed and therefore better decisions.”

Margaret Snowdon, director of JLT Employee Benefits, added that 2015 will see a monumental shift in the way people access and save for their retirement.

“Whilst much has been discussed about the practicalities and adequacy of the government’s free guidance service for DC members at the point of retirement, we felt strongly about the need for a tangible qualification, so that scheme administrators and others can evidence the right skills in guiding members.

“This is necessary whether the guidance is provided by the free guidance guarantee or through valuable ‘guidance plus’ support, paid for by schemes and employers.”