Defined Benefit  

PFS guide to feature in scheme transfer packs

PFS guide to feature in scheme transfer packs

Pension schemes will be asked to send a copy of the Personal Finance Society consumer transfer guide to members when they request a transfer value.

The guide, which will be launched in the next few weeks alongside a pension transfer code for advisers, is designed to help savers understand when financial advice is appropriate and how recipients will benefit from it.

It will help them appreciate what good quality advice looks and feels like and where to find it, the PFS has said previously.

Financial advice is mandatory for defined benefit transfers worth more than £30,000.

Margaret Snowdon, president of the Pensions Administration Standards Association and member of the PFS pension transfer taskforce, told FTAdviser yesterday (February 27) the guide sought to explain pension transfers in simple terms to members and would signpost savers to a list of accredited advisers on the Money Advice Service website, now part of the Single Financial Guidance Body.

This list will highlight advisers who have achieved a Gold Standard, which has been developed by the PFS pension transfer taskforce.

The taskforce, which includes former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, and former Financial Conduct Authority technical specialist Rory Percival, has set several criteria to distinguish financial advisers that "go above and beyond the FCA requirements", Ms Snowdon said.

She added: "We are asking them to do more: declare fees, declare conflicts of interest, have CPD, among other things."

The Gold Standard will be self-accrediting.

Ms Snowdon said: "Advisers that read those principles and can tick them off will be able to apply to become accredited, but they can be struck off if they are found [not complying with the standards]. The PFS will be the monitor of that."

The Gold Standard principles will also be explained in the consumer guide, so if an adviser doesn't behave according to the criteria, individuals can flag them to the PFS, she added.

Alan Chan, director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, said: "The pension transfer guide to consumers and the Gold Standard are great initiatives by the Personal Finance Society to help set the right expectations for consumers and give them reassurance that they are dealing with a well qualified, regulated adviser with strong ethics.

"My only criticism is that it is a self-accredited scheme by ticking a few boxes online which is very easy to do. This also means that any action taken will only be reactive once the damage has already been done by a rogue adviser."

maria.espadinha@ft.com