Pensions  

Altmann: pension advice for all a ‘missed opportunity’

Altmann: pension advice for all a ‘missed opportunity’

Industry veteran Ros Altmann has warned that an opportunity to ensure all adults facing retirement get regulated advice has been missed.

The government’s business champion for older workers said people needed full advice.

She said: “Pension Wise has a big job to do, but people at that stage should probably pay for financial advice.”

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She called for a system whereby all adults were given regulated advice, suggesting that advice fees could be paid for out of the product.

Ms Altmann said: “People need to understand the risks. That is why Pension Wise is not enough. An opportunity has been missed – an opportunity to introduce a regulated advice system, paid for out of the product instead of commission.”

She also said people needed to start considering their finances in their 20s rather than their 50s, and called for efforts to engage consumers.

She said: “We will need to see a greater emphasis on financial education.”

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research for Bristol-based Hargreaves Lansdown, said not all providers would be completely prepared for the changes or ready to deal with queries on 6 April 2015, the bank holiday Monday when the changes kick in.

He said: “A minority of providers will have the systems ready and the phones manned. “Some offices will be open but a lot will not.”

However, Robert Cochran, at retirement specialist for Scottish Widows, defended industry measures to engage with people interested in the effects of the pension changes.

According to Mr Cochran, the company has developed simplified information for consumers and hired extra staff in order to deal with a possible spike in demand from April 2015.

He said: “We have taken on 404 new people just to deal with the new freedoms. Half of these are surge people, not on long-term contracts, to work through the first few months.”

Adviser view

Anna Sofat, founder of London-based Addidi Wealth, said: “It should be mandatory for people to get a financial plan – not just financial advice. People would be far more engaged with a plan than just advice.”