Personal Finance Society  

PFS proposes pro-bono adviser network

PFS proposes pro-bono adviser network

The Personal Finance Society (PFS) has proposed to create a network of financial advisers to give pro-bono guidance if a similar situation to the British Steel debacle ever happens again.

The professional body stated the advisers could offer free impartial guidance to consumers in collaboration with the Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB).

The PFS already operates pro-bono advice programmes with Citizens Advice in 100 locations nationally, and also supports Armed Forces charities.

But in its submission to the Work and Pensions select committee inquiry into charging structures for financial advice on defined benefit (DB) transfers, launched in January, the professional body stated the network would improve the effectiveness of the whole pensions community, and thus positively influence consumer outcomes.

It also gave an update on the work of the pensions advice taskforce, which was set up last year.

The group, which includes former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, and former Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) technical specialist Rory Percival, has been working on developing a 'Gold Standard' and guide for consumers on what they can expect from financial advice. 

The PFS stated the document would be launched towards the end of this month, and it will be aligned to a pension transfer code for advisers to adopt.

The professional body explained the guide would help savers "understand when financial advice is appropriate, how recipients will benefit from it, help appreciate what good quality advice looks and feels like, and most importantly where to find it.

"Getting this right will make it easier for those who may have never taken financial advice in the past to spot a ‘bad apple’."

Meanwhile, the PFS is working in collaboration with the SFGB to enhance the adviser directory maintained by the Money Advisory Service (MAS).

One of the goals is to signpost consumers to adopters of the Gold Standard, both directly and via identification within the MAS adviser directory, it stated.

Paul Gibson, managing director at Granite Financial Planning, said: "The British Steel debacle is very sad and really should have been avoided by earlier regulatory reporting and monitoring. 

"A provider receiving lots of transfers from one firm should set alarm bells ringing and also be flagged to the FCA.

"A pro bono network, whilst very laudable, will attract the good advisers but not necessarily the bad apples. The rogues won’t sign up and always seem to be one step ahead and get caught too late."