Demands and proclamations: the week in news

Demands and proclamations: the week in news

Various FCA and Financial Ombudsman Service senior figures were out and about this week, telling their staff and the industry what to do - and being told by politicians what they should do.

Those stories and more will now be condensed to their core, along with a few other choice cuts from the last five days of news, in our round-up of the five most important things on the site:

1. Telling and being told.

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The week began with the Work and Pensions select committee’s report on its findings from the six months of the pension freedoms and the guidance service that went alongside.

It variously demanded providers are mystery shopped to make sure they are pushing savers towards Pension Wise, told the Financial Conduct Authority to tighten reporting requirements on pension scams and demanded more work on a pension dashboard.

MPs also told the regulator to clarify the distinction between guidance and advice, the definitions of safeguarded benefits and protections in providing advice to insistent clients.

Meanwhile, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s lead ombudsman Caroline Mitchell used our stage at the FTAdviser Retirement Freedoms Forum in Harrogate on Tuesday to tell her staff that it is not acceptable to ignore adviser’s phone calls.

“When I talk to advisers they say they never manage to talk to adjudicators, they’re always on voicemail and never manage to call back,” she stated. “I have done some training with adjudicators and I tell them they must talk to both parties. They can’t talk to people on the phone if they are on voicemail all the time.”

There you have it, if you ever have any issues with an ombudsman again, give Caroline a call.

2. Pension not-so-Wise.

Another speaker at our event this week was The Pensions Advisory Service’s head of policy Melinda Riley, who was challenged by a member of the audience about whether her staff have been making recommendations during guidance sessions.

Her answer was a resounding “no” and she countered arguments that Pension Wise was straying into advice, by pointing out guidance-givers were merely explaining the options, in this particular case that if someone takes all their money now, they need to think of the tax consequences.

This followed findings from the aforementioned Work and Pensions select committee report, that not providing the basis for a well-informed choice could lead to the next major pensions mis-selling scandal.

MPs ruled that Pension Wise should give more personalised guidance, incorporating an enquirer’s wider financial circumstances and improve its website to incorporate interactive features like an income calculator.

3. Regulatory top brass speak out.

This week also saw several of the FCA’s senior staff waxing lyrical about all things regulation.

Chairman John Griffith-Jones addressed the Treasury select committee and admitted the current process of funding the compensation scheme had its flaws. “Since the financial crisis talk about the FSCS have been dominated by bailing out the banks but in normal times we don’t expect it to bail out the banks.