Personal Pension  

Freedoms drive ‘record levels’ of adviser referrals

Freedoms drive ‘record levels’ of adviser referrals

Advisers are seeing “record levels” of new referrals at the moment as a direct result of the pension freedoms, according to John Lawson, head of policy for retirement solutions at Aviva.

Mr Lawson said that Aviva believe that about half their customers are now taking up financial advice, far many more than before. He estimated that before the pension freedoms came into practice, around 20 to 25 per cent were taking up advice.

“It has at least doubled - it might have been as low as 20 per cent before.”

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Mr Lawson added that this fresh takeup in advice was quite logical, because people are making complicated decisions due to the pension freedoms and the implications it begins. He also said that, as a provider, the firm was in a difficult position with regard to helping clients without straying into advice.

He said that people are taking advice with pots from anything from around £25,000 upwards. While some people with pots of £20,000 to £35,000 are taking cash, Mr Lawson emphasised that a signifant number of customers in that zone are also asking for help with options as well.

Research by My Pension Expert, published earlier this month, revealed that only a small number of retirees have taken the option to withdraw their whole pension fund as a result of last month’s freedoms.

During the last month, the firm found that only 1 per cent of customers have opted to strip out their pension fund in one go, the majority of which being those with smaller pension pots.

Mr Lawson said: “To be honest the takeup of our customers taking financial advice is really quite good. It’s a bit early to say for Pension Wise but... a lot more people have taken financial advice than have had a telephone or face-to-face with Pension Wise at the moment.

“The numbers taking advice have gone up quite massively - I think so far advisers should be doing quite well out of this. There’s a lot of customers we are probably referring that are not ideal -they are not super wealthy - but need some focused help or focused advice on making choices.

“I guess for the financial adviser it’s how do you deliver that service in a way that you can make money and that’s cost effective for the customer as well.”

Gareth Evans, head of corporate affairs at Royal London, told FTAdviser that it was difficult to have firm figures but that overall, it also had a very strong feeling that the number of people that were seeking advice was high.

He said that the businesses two branches, the intermediary introduced business and the consumer business, made up of customers who wouldn’t have had a financial adviser normally, and that both are experiencing significant increases in the volumes of clients taking advice.

Mr Evans explained that there were two factors affecting this primarily. The first was the second line of defence, which pointed people both towards Pension Wise and independent advice.