The secretary for Work and Pensions is looking into ways to help people with smaller savings access financial advice.
Amber Rudd was re-appointed in her role by new prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday, and was handed the additional brief of women and equalities.
Speaking before the Work and Pensions select committee before her appointment yesterday (July 24) Ms Rudd (pictured) said she had asked her officials what can be done on pension advice, specifically for people below the defined benefit advice threshold of £30,000.
She said: “As a result of what I’ve been hearing from the industry, I have said I would like to look more closely at it, to make sure that particularly people with savings lower than £30,000 are getting sufficient advice to be able to feel confident they are being able to protect their funds.”
Current rules dictate that savers with defined benefit pensions worth more than £30,000 need to get financial advice if they want to transfer out of their scheme.
Ms Rudd was answering a question from Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley, about the £30.7m fine recently levied on Standard Life Assurance for failings in its sales of non-advised annuities.
He questioned if this announcement, made yesterday, had moved Ms Rudd’s view any further on how to “make sure people are taking some level of independent advice or guidance before they access their pension pots, to make sure that they are as well protected as they possibly can be before they make this irreversible decision”.
The Financial Conduct Authority took action against Standard Life Assurance, after finding that the provider had failed to put in place adequate controls to monitor the quality of the calls between its call handlers and non-advised customers who were looking to purchase an annuity.
Ms Rudd said she was aware of the announcement, and noted that DWP was working with the Financial Conduct Authority and the Money and Pensions Service in this area.
But Paul Gibson, managing director at Granite Financial Planning, noted that the cost to deliver full independent advice was just not affordable for most with modest means.
He said: "Firms can’t transact the business more cheaply or it will be unprofitable.
"Not doing things properly can he hugely expensive as Standard Life have demonstrated.
"Lighter touch regulation and technology may have a role to play in the answer but I can’t see this happening any time soon.”
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