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Guidance will be steered to ‘telephone and digital’ delivery

Guidance will be steered to ‘telephone and digital’ delivery

Guidance services to prospective retirees through the Treasury’s Pension Wise brand will primarily be delivered through telephone and digital channels, in spite of the chancellor’s original proclamation of “free face-to-face advice”, according to Karen Barrett.

The chief executive of adviser referral website Unbiased told FTAdviser that a focus on remote mechanisms to deliver the guidance was “sensible”, would be more cost-effective, and played to the strengths of the organisations behind the service.

She added that such an evolution would help to establish the distinction between guidance and full, regulated advice.

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The Pensions Advisory Service is to operate remote guidance services and Citizens Advice Bureau will offer 45 minute face-to-face services through 44 hubs nationwide. Money Advice Service staff have been seconded to the Treasury to help with the Pension Wise website, which is to be launched next month.

Ms Barrett said the guidance offered was going to be based on “conversation blocks” being developed by Tpas and which CAB is “likely to follow”. She echoed concerns raised by others across the industry about the disparate experience demanded for recruits of each.

Her comments come as Unbiased today (27 January) published a table to highlight the differences between advice and guidance, with the benefits of full intermediation, in line with regulatory guidance issued last week, focusing on individual assessment and personal recommendations.

Unbiased research conducted in the wake of the Budget last year showed that one in five of 2,000 consumers surveyed believe they will be getting full advice under the guidance guarantee.

The remarks also come on the day the Money Advice Service published a call for advisers to register to feature in its adviser directory, which will be the primary referral point for guidance providers when handing customers off for more formal advice.

The directory is open to both independent and ‘whole of market’ restricted advisers that are able to advise on at-retirement income options.

Ms Barrett said she was disappointed that Unbiased was not chosen as the basis for the directory after submitting a proposal, suggesting the decision was largely based on the fact it has a commercial model which gives prominence to advisers paying for a full profile.

However, she said the firm had offered to remove the tick-box for the retirement directory. She added that Mas was “reinventing the wheel” and that she felt “taxpayers money - and advisers money - should not be spent trying to recreate what is working”.

Caroline Rookes, Mas chief executive, stated: “We hope that advisers who meet the entry criteria from right across the UK sign up to be listed on the directory - especially now that Pension Wise will be signposting consumers looking for regulated advice to the directory.”

ashley.wassall@ft.com