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Firing Line: Andy Kirby

One of the core tenets of the financial advice market review was the need for affordable and accessible advice and guidance for all – but particularly for those approaching retirement.

Enter The Pensions Portal – a new online platform, which has been designed to educate customers on the plethora of choices available to them at retirement following the introduction of the pension freedoms in April 2015.

Andy Kirby, its founder, said the technology platform was developed for employers and providers alike, with the aim of servicing an estimated 5.5m (according to Deloitte) savers who are either unable or unwilling to access financial advice.

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The service is currently unavailable to adviser firms, although this might be in the pipeline, according to Mr Kirby, who added that he has been in dialogue with two adviser groups.

“We want to create an impartial platform that people can trust. We are hoping that people who watch our videos will go on to pick up their phones and ring an adviser,” he said.

Mr Kirby is no stranger to the struggles of those approaching the decumulation stage of retirement. He founded and owns a financial advisory practice called Mint Wealth Management, which focuses on financial planning for people aged 50 and over.

The qualified adviser also heads up adviser hub Adviser Home, which provides marketing and business development for advisers.

For his latest venture, Mr Kirby joined forces with Mark Thewliss, a Chartered Insurance Institute-accredited trainer, and John Glover, a founding director of Asset TV.

The Pensions Portal, which can be white labelled, packages its CII and Pensions Management Institute-accredited guidance through a series of animated clips – the duration of which typically ranges from between two and eight minutes long.

Users can track their progression and are incentivised to persevere with the guidance service through the use of ‘badges’, which are unlocked upon reaching certain goals.

The proposition comprises two services: the Pension Freedoms Portal and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Risk Warnings Portal.

The latter, labelled as the second line of defence in the compliance process by Mr Kirby, offers warnings of risk identified by the FCA – again through animation.

At the end, the client is required to answer a number of questions which will provide evidence to the FCA that the consumer has understood the risk warnings.

The frequency at which the content is updated is largely subject to the Chancellor’s appetite for tinkering with the pension system in future Budgets.

The company dodged the prospect of an inflated workload when the widely anticipated introduction of a flat-rate pension tax relief did not materialise in the previous Budget.

Mr Kirby and his team are not out of the woods yet, however, as many industry experts predict that the newly announced Lifetime Isa is a precursor to the widely touted pensions Isa.

Mr Kirby said: “Mark Thewliss is our content guru, and he will endeavour to ensure that the content is up-to-date. We will probably hold our breath when the next Budget comes around. Hopefully George Osborne will not tinker with pensions for a while.”