Pension Freedom  

Half of advisers ‘concerned’ clients draw down too much

Half of advisers ‘concerned’ clients draw down too much
Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Nearly half of advisers (47 per cent) are worried their clients are going against their advice and withdrawing too much money from their pensions.

The research, published by AKG in partnership with Abrdn and Scottish Widows, highlighted a 19 per cent uptick in advisers concerned about their clients doing this compared to four years ago, in 2018, when about a quarter (28 per cent) of advisers felt this was an issue.

AKG also drew attention to advisers’ concerns around investment volatility (67 per cent) and the impact of rising long-term inflation (59 per cent), which were compounding the issue.

Pension freedoms legislation, which came into force from April 2015, allows savers to more flexibly access their defined contribution pension from the age of 55, using the funds for a wider range of options, including cash withdrawal, retirement income products or a combination of the two.

Jacques Bezuidenhout, the head of Scottish Widows' retirement solutions, said: “There are two concerns from advisers. One is clients choosing to take more money against your advice and two is running out of money - with the second being a main concern of consumers too.

"Advisers are concerned consumers are going against their advice or not seeking their advice before transacting.

"Providers should work with advisers to do more to illustrate the impacts of withdrawals to consumers, and support advisers with staying close to their clients to mitigate the risk of running out of money.”

The report suggested advisers’ concerns about investment volatility was particularly concerning given investment-linked exposure through drawdown.

“This volatility will now provide a test for drawdown investment and income withdrawal strategies," it said.

AKG's communications director, Matt Ward, added that concerns around inflation and the cost of living crisis were "a very real threat" for people across the country and would have a direct impact on the decisions made by pensions customers across age groups, whether in accumulation or decumulation.

"We have had such a prolonged period of low inflation that a lack of inflation may be almost baked into people’s assumptions and their positions/plans could be heavily destabilised," Ward explained.

"The industry therefore needs to be both helpful, practical and realistic in the way in which it seeks to educate and address these issues with a wide range of pensions customers.”

Asked what the biggest areas of concern were for their businesses in 2022-23, advisers put regulatory challenges at the top (75 per cent), followed by economic and investment volatility.

Alastair Black, head of industry chane at Abrdn, said: “As providers rely on advisers to place customers with them, we should all have a responsibility to work together to make regulatory change as straightforward as possible.

“While change can lead to a degree of complexity and extra costs, there can also be opportunities.