Regulation 

Adviser launches parliamentary petition to ban cold calling

Adviser launches parliamentary petition to ban cold calling

A Derbyshire-based financial planner has successfully launched a parliamentary petition calling for a ban on all cold-calling related to pensions or investments.

Darren Cooke of Red Circle Financial Planning applied to Parliament for the petition, with the mandatory sponsorship of five prominent financial planners.

The petition, which states "Cold calling by phone or email for investment or pensions should be made illegal", went live on 21 September.

At 3:30pm yesterday (22 September) - less than 24 hours after its launch - it had gathered 217 signatures.

Mr Cooke told FTAdviser the petition now had six months to gather 10,000 signatures. If it succeeded, the government would be obliged to respond.

If it gathered 100,000 signatures, he said it would have to be considered for debate in Parliament.

He said achieving 10,000 signatures was "objective one", adding: "If we can get to 100,000, ecstasy.That would be amazing."

"But if all I do is raise a debate and prevent one person from being scammed out of their life's savings, I'm happy," he told FTAdviser.

He said the five sponsors of the petition were Alastair Rush of Echelon Wealthcare, Scott Gallacher of Rowley Turner, Philip Bray of Investment Sense, Martin Bamford of Informed Choice and Chris Daems of Cervello Financial Planning.

The petition immediately got the support of former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann, who said she had promoted the cause when she was in government without success.

She said her officials "insisted that this was not something that they recommended, that it wouldn’t really make much difference, that most of the scams originate overseas and that it would take time to put the legislation together".

But she said making cold-calling illegal would "send a strong signal to people that they should ‘Just Hang Up’ if someone cold calls about their pensions". 

"British people tend not to want to be rude to some nice sounding person who calls them, even if they don’t know who on earth they are, we just like to be polite.  But it is important for people to know that no reputable firm will cold call you about your pension," she said.

Martin Tilley, director of technical services at Sipp administrator Dentons, also said he would "happily sign" a petition , saying there was "no argument for not banning it".

However, he argued it would be a difficult rule to enforce, as it was "enormously difficult to find out if you were being cold called."

That, he said, was because if you have inadvertently signed something that gives permission to a company to sell you contact details to a third party, and that third party calls you, then it is not a cold call.

He added that Dentons' Sipp customers had been victims of cold-callers in the past, but that with the increased regulation of Sipps, this was happening less.

The Department for Work and Pensions declined to comment, saying the issue fell within the remit of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

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