The government, regulators, providers and advisers are not ready for the pension reforms, with critical information missing weeks before the launch, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, Huw Evans, has said.
“It is impossible to say the government is ready – that is a statement of fact not an attribution of blame,” he said.
The ABI chief called for a “best endeavors effort” for all parties to work together as the new system bedded in, but said many questions remained unanswered.
“Pension Wise has no phone number yet so there is nowhere for providers to direct people to if they do not have internet access,” he said.
He added: “We still don’t know how the guidance sessions will work, how they will be structured and recorded so that providers and advisers can know what was discussed.”
However, he said that April 6 was not a deadline, but simply the start.
“People should not be rushed into making quick decisions about savings they may have accumulated over the years,” he said.
Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the government had set a very ambitious timetable to have everything in place in time.
He said: “These reforms are overwhelmingly popular and in the long term will do much to reinvigorate pension provision. Our worry is that because the reforms are being introduced so quickly, many providers will not be ready in time.”
A recent survey carried out by Defaqto, commissioned by Partnership, revealed that only 5 per cent would use the guidance guarantee. In October, research from the Chartered Insurance Institute revealed that 92 per cent would use the service.
Greg Heath, managing director of Preston-based Derbyshire Booth Financial Management, said: “I do not believe we are anywhere near ready, if you look also at the Revenue & Customs reporting requirements also.
“It is down to the drip feeding of legislation. There was the basic bones in April but a feeling that the boundaries would change, and the Autumn Statement was only four months before the April launch. So the first six months are key, but it was a very ambitious timetable.”