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National firm ‘very offended’ at Treasury’s lack of trust

National firm ‘very offended’ at Treasury’s lack of trust

Advisers are “upset” at being deliberately overlooked for at-retirement guidance despite their experience, according to national firm LEBC’s Kay Ingram, who said she was “very offended” at the lack of trust the Treasury has shown in the sector.

Speaking at an event in London, she said: “The government ignored us, except when it comes to paying the bill. I’m very offended, especially after all the training we’ve done, the professional indemnity insurance, taking the blame for various FSCS debacles. We still weren’t deemed good enough to pick this up.

“I think most IFAs are upset about not being included, there are 20,000 of us willing to give free sessions, so the implication appears to be that we’re simply not trusted.”

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Ms Ingram questioned the experience of the guidance practitioners and their responsibility to consumers, describing those staffing the service as “gifted amateurs” who are not bound by consumer redress rules.

Her comments came following a presentation by The Pensions Advisory Service’s chief executive Michelle Cracknell, who sought to give an overview of how the Treasury’s Pension Wise service would work in practice.

Tpas has been tasked with delivering the telephone-based service while the Citizens Advice Bureau will be delivering the face-to-face element.

Ms Cracknell assured that staff at Tpas do have professional indemnity insurance, are fully qualified and said that she was happy to guarantee a quality service.

Speaking at back-to-back FTAdviser events earlier this week, Ms Cracknell and her head of policy Melinda Riley stated the telephony channel would be fully ready in time for 6 April and that all guidance staff will complete a level three CII certificate before giving guidance to consumers.

Yesterday Ms Cracknell also reiterated points made earlier in the week that people “don’t know what they don’t know” when it comes to retirement options and that it should not be a case of guidance or advice.

Responding to Ms Cracknell’s calls for the industry to make a concerted effort to communicate more clearly about retirement income options, Ms Ingram said she did not agree that her peers speak in jargon, adding that advisers working at her firm are trained to do exactly the opposite.

Ms Ingram questioned the original job adverts for guidance staff at Tpas and Citizen’s Advice and questioned how anyone could be fully trained in six weeks, adding that “it’s an impossible task and I wish you well”.

She also reiterated calls for a 30-day cooling off period for those seeking to access all of their pension pot. Earlier this week, the Association of British Insurers had suggested an identical mechanism for those pension savers who try to withdraw too much of their pot at once from April.

Ms Ingram believes the cooling-off period should be for anyone who has not been advised by a regulated adviser.

She said: “A safeguard needs to be put in place to protect the public from making the wrong decisions and potentially ruining their lives.”