L&G tells IFA's client to go to Pension Wise

L&G tells IFA's client to go to Pension Wise

Legal & General told an adviser's client to get impartial guidance from Pension Wise after sending the client a pensions quotation.

Ian Osang, partner at Essex-based Ingard Independent Financial Management, contacted Legal & General late last year to get a quote for a longstanding pension client of his.

However, when the pension account value information was sent to the client, the information was accompanied by a letter directing that client to go to Pension Wise for retirement help.

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In the letter, seen by FTAdviser, the client was told: "This is an important decision and you must consider all your options carefully. To help you understand your retirement options, the government has set up a free and impartial pension guidance service called Pension Wise."

The letter included information about the service, and added - highlighted in bold lettering - "We strongly recommend you take this guidance before you make your decision."

At the very end of the letter, Legal & General summed up four points for what the client should do next.

The first was to read a Money Advice Service guide, the second was to seek guidance from Pension Wise, the first was to shop around, and the fourth read: "If you're still unsure what to do, you should speak to a financial adviser."

Mr Osang said: "For me, the message is L&G is a company who have hitherto relied on business from IFAs to grow and effectively exist.

"In recent years it has closed the lines of communication to advisers, so we can no longer effectively manage policies for clients held with L&G and, to add insult to injury, it is now clearly advocating our clients cut us out of the advice process."

Mr Osang complained to the life and pensions provider in January, explaining the merits of independent financial advice for his clients, but was unhappy with the response he received.

The response from L&G stated: "We have to accept not all customers will have a financial adviser. While I accept you've made some valid points about the merits of obtaining financial advice, I feel it is not detrimental to encourage customers to get guidance and shop around.

"In fact, FCA regulations state we must do this."

The provider then pointed to COBS 19.4, where the FCA outlines what providers should tell clients. 

However, Mr Osang said this was not good enough - especially as other providers have been able to promote financial advice more prominently.

He followed this up with a communication to the chief executive, Nigel Wilson, complaining about not just the letter cutting advisers out of the loop but also the "inadequate" response he received to his complaint.