Guide to helping insistent clients

  • To ascertain the regulatory interest over insistent clients.
  • To be able to list measures to help insistent clients and protect your business.
  • To understand the complexities relating to a person's desires versus their needs.
Guide to helping insistent clients


Insistent clients - this two-word phrase has become a shared experience of dread for many advisers and providers since Pension Freedom and Choice came into effect in April 2015.

The adage 'the customer is always right' cannot apply when the adviser knows the outcome will be very wrong for the client. And in a regulated market, the adviser must always work in the client's best financial interests. 

And yet the law says people can have access to their money, their pension pots, when they want and how they want and nobody should stand in their way.

This has left advisers grappling for answers as to how to deal with those clients who definitely want to do something stupid with their own money. Will a signed piece of paper suffice? Will a document outlining all the possible pitfalls protect advisers in the case of a future mis-selling claim?

The Financial Conduct Authority, finally, seems to have listened to the very real concerns of the pensions industry in its 114-page consultation paper: The Financial Advice Market Review: Implementation part II and insistent clients.

The regulator has recognised there is a real problem and proposes to issue guidance to firms. Its consultation closed last month (October) and it acknowledged "firms need more support in this area, particularly in the light of the legislative requirement that customers must receive regulated advice for any defined benefits, where the value of the fund transferred exceeds £30,000".

But does it go far enough? Richard Freeman, chief distribution officer for Old Mutual Wealth, called the proposals a "common-sense approach" but warned there would still be some cases where clients in their full capacity decide not to follow the advice, even if they understand the risks involved in rejecting the advice.

"This can create a Catch-22 situation, which helps neither the adviser nor the client." 

So despite the best intentions of the regulator - whose response to the consultation is expected before Christmas this year - advisers could still find themselves torn between supporting their insistent clients or resisting any help at all, which could lead to further disengagement.

This guide aims to ascertain whether pension freedoms created or merely exacerbated the insistent client issue, understand what the regulator's view is on the topic, learn where the pain points are especially with regard to defined benefit transfers, make sense of the potential problems with professional indemnity insurance and find practical ways to help clients without simply letting them self-harm.

It qualifies for an indicative 60 minutes' worth of CPD.

Contributors to this guide: Richard Freeman, chief distribution officer for Old Mutual Wealth; Ryan Markham, head of member options for Hymans Robertson; Martin Tilley, director of technical services for Dentons Pensions Management; Sankar Mahalingham, head of defined benefit growth for Xafinity; Alastair Black, head of financial planning propositions for Standard Life; Claire Trott, head of pensions strategy for Technical Connection; John Vaughan, compliance manager for Mattioli Woods; Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society; a spokesman for the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association; and the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Simoney Kyriakou is content plus editor for FTAdviser

In this guide


Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

  1. What does Mr Vaughan think pension freedoms has done in relation to insistent clients?

  2. What does Mr Black say about the FCA's latest FAMR consultation paper on insistent clients?

  3. What is the guidance from the PFS, according to Mr Richards?

  4. According to Mr Tilley, what would Dentons rather do than have the client suffer a poor outcome?

  5. What might affect the PI premiums and scope of cover, according to a Pimfa spokesman?

  6. What does Mr Mahalingham believe advisers can make better use of?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • To ascertain the regulatory interest over insistent clients.
  • To be able to list measures to help insistent clients and protect your business.
  • To understand the complexities relating to a person's desires versus their needs.

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