Personal Pension  

Pension Wise is finally up and running

Pension Wise is finally up and running

Pension Wise has finally opened its telephone line and the service has officially opened for business exactly two weeks before the day when businesses will be open to allow people to access the new pension freedoms for the first time.

Consumers can call 030 0330 1001 to book an appointment, after going through the automated telephone answering service.

The service is being delivered through three channels: online via the website www.pensionwise.gov.uk; over the phone by The Pensions Advisory Service and face to face by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

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The service will cover a number of key areas, including information gathering to help plan drawing an income, planning how to draw an income, risks such as tax, fraud and running out of money, providing for dependents and shopping around for a good deal.

As it is simply delivering guidance, it will not tell consumers which product or products to go for.

The service will also not cover investment guidance to help you manage your money, how to manage your retirement savings alongside your other wealth and give guidance to defined scheme members.

Tom McPhail, Hargreaves Lansdown’s head of pensions research, said: “With only two weeks to go until the new freedoms go live, it has been a close run thing for the Treasury to get the promised service up and running.

“Pension Wise will be useful but for many investors it is unlikely to answer all their needs. If investors want more help, the Pension Wise service only directs them towards paying for regulated financial advice, which is hardly consistent with the spirit of the new freedoms.

“We know that most investors want to make their own decisions without paying for an adviser, at the same time they’re likely to want more help than Pension Wise can offer. As a consequence, the pensions industry has also been gearing up for a big surge in demand.”

Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the National Association of Pension Funds, said: “Pension Wise, perhaps more than any other part of the changes, will determine the success of the government’s freedom and choice reforms.

“Today’s announcement of the telephone number means schemes finally have the full picture of these reforms and can now finalise communications to their members. With seven working days to go before the reforms go live schemes will do all they can to make sure their members are as well informed as possible for 6 April.”

Chris Hannant, director general of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, stated that giving people control over the money they have saved has generated a significant upsurge in interest in pensions and that is a good thing.

“People will need to use this freedom with care and seeing a financial adviser will help them make the most of their options. Pension Wise will help people understand the choices they have; a financial adviser will be able to tell them which one is best for them.”