Pension red tape and dog spotting: week in news

Pension red tape and dog spotting: week in news

Pension problems, more banks moving back into advice and conference coverage dominated the most read stories on our site this week.

So as is traditional on a Friday afternoon, here is your round-up of arguably the most important things to happen in the financial adviser market during the last five days.

1) Another week, another Fos decision

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Yesterday (28 January) saw the comments flood in on for the Financial Ombudsman Service’s latest decision involving an adviser.

This particular case concerned the advice given by Park Lane Financial Planning, which ombudsman Kim Parsons deemed unsuitable given the client’s circumstances, ordering the firm to compensate a client, after recommending he transfer four of his pension plans to another provider.

Ms Parsons pointed out that the transfers cost the client money. “He paid commission and a charge to set up the new plan. He appears to have paid higher ongoing charges. I can’t see that there was any reason to incur these costs.”

Park Lane disputed the fact the client had suffered a loss as a result of the advice, suggesting he was in fact considerably better off because of the moves.

2) Pension regulation continues apace

Earlier in the week, the Department for Work & Pensions released a second consultation on options for banning member-borne commission payments in occupational schemes used for automatic enrolment.

It looked to advisers - amongst other industry stakeholders - for their views on the specifics of the ban, ahead of the sunset clause on all such payments coming into force in April.

The Pensions Regulator welcomed its new role, enforcing the new rules directly on service providers, including issuing compliance notices and fines.

Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority was also talking tough on the repercussions for self-invested personal pension providers who fail to meet its capital requirements come September.

While assessments of firms would be based on individual merits, with work possible to help repair their capital position if needs be, the regulator noted providers have had more than three years to prepare, so it was also ready to wind up those businesses that fell a long way short.

In its January regulation round-up, the FCA also warned that providers and advisers must prepare for the introduction of European Union-wide Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (Priips) at the end of this year.

“It is important that all firms who manufacture, sell or advise on Priips understand what the changes mean for them before the implementation date of 31 December 2016,” the document read.

“Manufacturers must prepare a Key Information Document (KID) and publish it on their website.”

Elsewhere, pensions minister Baroness Altmann categorically ruled out turning her auto-enrolment promotional creation ‘Workie’ into a more 1970s-style campaign of fear.

This led to a Twitter debate on how her big fluffy creature could go bad...

3) Another bank lumbers back towards advice

With only a month of 2016 gone, there have already been some fairly seismic shifts in the advisory landscape, with a softening FCA stance and optimism around the Financial Advice Market Review inspiring some of the biggest high street banks back to the market they left.