Defined Benefit  

Advisers start charging for triage services

"Making it free is likely to boost the inquiry number and could therefore lead to a better PII conversation. The provision of free impartial education can also be good for communicating a firm's brand values and will support engagement and trust."

Charging for the service throws up questions as to the type of service that is being offered, whether it sails close to what may be perceived as advice.

But Threesixty’s Mr Facer stressed that he doesn’t see any conflict in advisers charging for triage services and the FCA rules.

He said: "It’s a commercial decision in regards to a cost for a service. It's perfectly in their rights to charge for a service they're providing."

The FCA declined to comment on this matter.

Mr Facer added: "The majority of people aren't going to be transferring, because it wouldn't be appropriate for them. It's not up to an adviser to train and educate the whole population, which is why training of this nature should be available for free via the various finance consumer bodies."

Alan Chan, chartered financial planner and director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, doesn't find any issues with firms charging for their triage service.

He said: "It’s a commercial decision – there’s obviously a cost associated with constructing and maintaining this kind of service and ensuring it’s up to date with current regulations, so that the client will be in an informed position to decide if they want to proceed further and engage in proper financial advice or not.

"The consumer is not forced to use them, and there may well be others who will offer a triage service for free. I think it will be particularly important that firms do not mandate potential clients to use and pay for their own triage service as a prerequisite to obtaining pension transfer advice with them. In my view, the triage service is supposed to aid the consumer and help them to decide from very early on in the process if they want to go further or not and should not therefore be an added cost on top of their advice fees." 

maria.espadinha@ft.com