PensionsOct 7 2020

Call for Pension Wise to operate advice service

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Call for Pension Wise to operate advice service

The Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) has suggested Pension Wise should run an advice service to fill the gap between guidance and full advice to prevent scams.

As part of its submission to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into scams, the organisation said the service should help those looking to transfer out of their defined benefit pensions, even if the value is less than £30,000.

Legally, if a saver wants to transfer out of a pension worth more than £30,000 advice must be sought before they can proceed.

According to the AMNT, the Pension Wise advice service would cover the reason for the transfer, the receiving scheme and confirmation that the member transferring fully understands the consequences if they choose to proceed.

If the service finds that the member needs more comprehensive help, they would then be passed on to an adviser for full financial advice.

AMNT proposed that the advisory service would form part of Pension Wise, with the advice given by specially trained individuals.

The aim of the service would be to ensure that members are not being targeted by scammers and receive an adequate level of advice.

AMNT has not detailed how this system should be funded or what its liabilities should be, but said further details on how it will operate can be consulted on by the wider industry.

It stated: “We do not consider it appropriate, however, for us to recommend on every detail of how our proposal ought to be implemented. 

“Our aim is to raise for public debate the idea of an advice service. We submit that others are better qualified and better placed to consider the particulars of realisation.”

The line between guidance and advice is an age-old debate in the industry.

The Financial Conduct Authority states that advice is based on a personal recommendation and guidance includes more general information about financial products.

But in a call for input last month the regulator identified an “unmet need” for “focused” advice.

The watchdog said it was likely there were consumers looking for “straightforward, one-off or focused advice” based on their relevant personal circumstances who were not necessarily interested in an ongoing advice relationship.

Speaking to the committee on pension scams this morning (September 7), Julian Adams, director of public policy and regulation at M&G, agreed there was a role for a middle pathway between advice and guidance.

He said: “The form it takes is matter for discussion and debate but a form of structured pathway that is less than bespoke advice taking your personal circumstances into account could work.”

Meanwhile, Rachel Vahey, senior technical consultant at AJ Bell said: “We believe guidance does play a role, as does advice, and both of these can help people make better decisions about their pensions and play a role in preventing scams.”

Ms Vahey said AJBell always recommends that people looking to transfer their pension or looking to encash their fund go seek regulated advice but “would not feel comfortable” recommending a particular adviser.

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