Pensions  

Most advisers support DB transfer triage

Most advisers support DB transfer triage

Advisers have shown strong support for a triage process which they can offer clients before providing advice on defined benefit (DB) transfers, research from Aegon suggested.

Ahead of the Financial Conduct Authority’s feedback on its latest round of proposals on DB transfers, due to be published this autumn, the research found 56 per cent of advisers supported a triage process for clients considering DB transfer advice.

The research also showed 44 per cent of advisers thought the new rules governing pension transfers were now clear enough.

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The aim of a triage service is to offer information and guidance to clients considering seeking advice on DB transfers without this being classed as a personal recommendation. 

Aegon proposed a "traffic lights" form of triage to the FCA which advice firms and scheme trustees could offer.  

The triage involved clients answering a series of questions, with each answer being given a red, amber or green score.

Those with mostly green scores would be told they might benefit from seeking advice, while a mainly red would suggest advice might not be worth taking. 

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: "Advice on DB transfers is complex and inevitably comes at a significant cost. 

"With the FCA continuing to stress that for most people, transferring will not be suitable, it’s important that advisers can help clients identify whether or not it is likely to be worth their while seeking advice.  

"This will save some clients money and allow advisers to concentrate on advising those for whom transferring is more likely to be beneficial. Our research shows that advisers agree with Aegon that it’s important for the FCA to enable an effective form of triage."

The research suggested strong support from advisers for a continuation of contingent charging to avoid widening the gap for DB transfer advice.  

The FCA is exploring if contingent charging could work without biasing advice recommendations, following calls from the Work and Pensions select committee to ban it.

Advisers who aren’t involved in the pension transfer market showed support for contingent charging, with 56 per cent saying the FCA should allow it.

Mr Cameron said: "With regulatory scrutiny of past advice continuing and with skyrocketing professional indemnity Insurers premiums for those active in this market, we need to ensure advisers have clarity and regain confidence to meet pent up demand for advice in this area.

"The FCA has offered welcome clarity which should remove the risk of advice being found unsuitable. PII insurers need to be shown that for future advice, there is no justification for inflated premiums."

Scott Gallacher, financial planner at Rowley Turton, said: "In principle it's a great idea but our external compliance experts have advised us firmly against this approach.

"This was on the basis that the initial triage stage would still be regarded as giving advice. Consequently we would be taking on a potential liability for little or no reward."