Responsibility for pension choices lies with all: FCA

Responsibility for pension choices lies with all: FCA

The chief executive of the FCA has said it is “difficult to argue” that individuals should not take some responsibility for choices they make post-6 April.

Martin Wheatley was addressing the National Association of Pension Funds’ investment conference in Edinburgh on the issue of liability surrounding the upcoming freedoms.

He acknowledged that many in the industry would be feeling anxious about their responsibilities once the reforms came into force.

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Quoting figures from Saga that cruise bookings have already risen by 8 per cent ahead of April, he said some savers would “invariably head to Las Vegas” once they hit 55.

Mr Wheatley said: “It is perfectly reasonable for firms to question where accountability eventually lies if you end up in a situation, say, where X or Y percentage of consumers refuse to listen to any guidance or risk warnings given.

“Who, ultimately, is to blame if, 10 to 15 years on from now, those people regret whatever choice they have made, or complain they were not properly guided?

“And actually, at that point, it becomes difficult to sensibly argue that individual consumers should not accept responsibility. Nor, I think, would wider society expect otherwise.”

Mr Wheatley said there would have to be a division of responsibility between consumers, providers and regulators for what happens once the reforms are introduced.

He said: “We deceive ourselves if we imagine there are not also risks here for firms and policymakers to manage.

“One of the most important, for me, is the possibility that some customers in this first tranche to benefit from the new freedoms, will be targeted by criminal enterprise.

“Scams and fraud, we know, tend to proliferate at the moment of maximum uncertainty.

“It is an imperative that this risk is properly managed and mitigated.”

Adviser view

Robert Lockie, a partner with London-based Bloomsbury Wealth, said: “It is not impossible to have a circumstance where someone comes to you with an idea, you say it is terrible and they do it anyway.

“I think as long as it is made clear that guidance is guidance not advice, and the people giving it are not liable for it, then it may not be a problem.”