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PFS Festival and decumulation delusions: the week in news

PFS Festival and decumulation delusions: the week in news

It’s been a busy week, particularly for those among us who have had to schedule in their secret meetings with members of the Israeli government.

If your furtive attempts at diplomacy have meant you haven’t kept on top of the news as much as you’d have liked, then here’s the week in news.

1) Turn up, tune in, drop out

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This week more than 3,000 advisers turned up to a conference centre in the Midlands for the Personal Finance Society’s Festival of Financial Planning.

As far as your loyal correspondent could tell, there were very few illicit substances doing the rounds but there was some alcohol and more than enough financial planning.

PFS chief executive Keith Richards used the event to reveal that he is in talks with the Ministry of Defence over extending its pro-bono advice service for members of the armed forced.

He also announced that the PFS had secured a mutual recognition agreement for qualifications with the European Financial Planning Association.

Meanwhile advisers were warned they run the risk of accidentally allowing people to carry out defined benefit transfers and the Financial Conduct Authority ruled out tampering with professional indemnity insurance for firms providing these transfers.

The festival was closed by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, who predicted there was a one in five chance Britain would not leave the European Union at all.

2) Passing of a pensions legend

The world of pensions and financial advice was shocked by the death of AJ Bell’s Mike Morrison.

Mr Morrison, who was head of platform technical at AJ Bell, was 55-years-old and had a wife and young daughter.

He was well known, liked and respected within the industry he worked in for almost 30 years through roles at Winterthur Life, Axa Wealth and AJ Bell. 

This writer and many of his colleagues can certainly speak for what a knowledgeable and decent person he was.

3) Decumulation delusion disaster?

Platforms declining to offer the full range of pension withdrawal products with only drawdown widely available, is putting advisers at risk of claims they are not acting in the best interests of clients, we learnt this week.

Consultancy firm the Lang Cat found just 53 per cent of advisers use a platform specifically for decumulation, that is to enable clients to manage the withdrawal of their retirement savings.

The Lang Cat’s founder Mark Polson said that what made this particularly disappointing was the fact some of the most popular platforms did not offer “the most basic features” for decumulation.

Only two platforms - Standard Life Wrap and Transact - provided all 11 features of the features Mr Polson asked about.

Rory Percival, a regulatory consultant and former technical specialist at the Financial Conduct Authority, said advisers were risking falling foul of the rules by not using a well-designed platform with all the necessary features for decumulation.