Regulation and tax changes have topped the list of concerns for advisers when providing retirement advice in the coming year.
According to research from Aegon with Next Wealth, after the pandemic led to delays in consultations and regulatory changes, the push to catch up for lost time is creating a very “congested roadmap” of regulatory change for 2022.
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said the chancellor’s approach to freezing the pensions lifetime allowance and annual allowance and the threat of possible further cuts is also seen as a particular advice challenge.
“The LTA limit has seen a significant reduction since reaching £1.8m a decade ago and now sits frozen at £1,073,100 until 2025/26,” he said.
“While we hope any further short term changes here are unlikely, freezing these allowances particularly when inflation is at a decade high means more people could be dragged into paying more tax on their pension pot unless receiving careful advice.”
Advisers' top three challenges this year
|1||Regulatory and tax changes|
|2||The impact of Covid on stock market volatility and client meetings|
|3||Balancing investment risk objectives with income needs amid macro-economic uncertainty|
Tim Morris, IFA at Russell & Co Financial Advisers, said: “Regulatory change is a room 101 event. You just have to grin and bear it. Tax changes can be a headache yet also provide planning opportunities with clients. Although pensions have suffered negatively of late.”
The survey, which was conducted with 212 financial advisers in December 2021, also found that “a small but notable number of advisers” saw adjusting advice in light of the regulator’s evolving focus on environment, social and governance as a challenge to providing retirement advice.
“Responsible investing is expected to be a big theme this year with advisers playing a key role on building a wide variety of customer attitudes towards green and sustainable investing into their suitability assessments,” Cameron said.
The impact of covid on stock market volatility and client meetings was second in the list of concerns, followed by balancing investment risk objectives with income needs amid macro-economic uncertainty.
Throughout the pandemic, covid restrictions caused disruption to face-to-face meetings which have traditionally been the foundation of the client-adviser relationship.
While many clients have benefitted from accessing advice for the first time through new technologies, concerns persisted over further disruption to service caused by covid.
Advisers also highlighted the challenges of satisfying client investment risk objectives while also meeting income requirements during the ongoing high inflation, low interest rate environment.
Cameron said: “Advisers highlight stock market instability as a challenge for retirement advice in the coming year. Both Brexit and the covid pandemic have created significant market volatility in recent times.
“Advisers are adapting by moving to more dynamic tools to meet their clients’ objectives and provide sustainable income strategies amid expected continued market volatility.”
However, Justin King, chartered financial planner at MFP Wealth Management, said he views the three challenges as a “fantastic opportunity”.
He said: “Volatility has always been present, but clients need help with it. Regulation and tax of course is a challenge but what are we here for unless this stuff was difficult?