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Vanguard advice and DB permissions revoked: the week in news

Vanguard advice and DB permissions revoked: the week in news

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world this week when they suddenly announced plans to step back from the royal family, creating reportedly high tensions within the palace ranks.

It was just as eventful closer to home, however, as the Treasury was slammed for its ‘lip service’ tax review and the City-watchdog revealed it had revoked advisers' DB transfer permissions.

It’s time for the week in news.

1 ‘Hasty’ and ‘meaningless’

The industry slammed the government this week for its “hasty” and “meaningless” review of the proposed changes to the off-payroll working rules.

The rules, more commonly known as IR35, affect the way businesses deal with contractors and freelancers for tax purposes.

The proposed changes have been criticised by contractors and businesses alike, prompting the Conservatives to promise a review of such changes in their election campaign.

But the review announced this week did not live up to expectation when HM Treasury said it would look into the way the new rules would be implemented — rather than a review of the rules themselves — without enough time to make significant changes before the April 1 implementation date.

2 Transfer trouble

The City-watchdog has turned up the heat on the DB transfer market, revealing this week it has prevented more than a third of the firms it had assessed from providing advice in this area.

In a podcast streamed via its website the Financial Conduct Authority said it had stopped 24 of the 63 firms it had assessed, adding the regulator had seen “significant bad practice” in such firms.

The FCA's head of retail investments supervision, Chris McGrath, said while about 90 per cent of investment advice was generally suitable, in the DB market that suitability rate had dropped to about 50 per cent, which was "simply not good enough".

3 IFA turned CMC

FTAdviser told the tale of how an adviser bagged his client £74,000 after discovering the client had been inaccurately advised to transfer out of his DB scheme in the 1990s.

Neil Liversidge, managing director of West Riding Personal Financial Solutions, complained to Royal London over advice given by Acuma (later bought by Royal London) to transfer into one of its own pension plans after spotting the extra pot when advising his client.

He said “alarm bells” had rung over DB transfers in the 1990s and so he put forward the case to Royal London.

The complaint was successful and Royal London agreed to pay £74,167 into the client’s pension plan, as well as £500 for the trouble and upset caused.

4 Trail dilemma

Aviva’s error on a pre-Retail Distribution Review pension policy has left an adviser out-of-pocket in a series of events which has reignited the debate around trail commission.

Adviser Ian Tandy flagged to Aviva his company was no longer being paid the fee on a pre-RDR pension policy due to an administrative error.

Mr Tandy accepted he was no longer providing a service to the client and understood it was a “complex” case, but flagged the fact if Aviva had not made an error the payment would still be active and others could find themselves in a similar situation without realising.