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Voluntary code of conduct proposed for pensions advice

2 July 2018

The Personal Finance Society has formed a new Pensions Advice Taskforce, designed to provide a voluntary code of conduct for the pensions advice industry, in the wake of the British Steel Pension Scheme scenario.

The PFS said its main focus was upon sharing good practice and providing a code of conduct that “gives clear guidance in areas of ambiguity for everyone involved in retirement planning.”

Keith Richards, chief executive, PFS, said: “The sector is predominantly made up of small firms, who are often not in a position to benchmark themselves against the wider market. Consequently, we have been liaising with the government and the regulator to facilitate alignment and unity on key issues to produce the best possible consumer outcomes at all times.

“We are also seeking to ensure that the unintended consequences of pension freedoms do not unfairly impact the advice profession at a future point.”

The task force has met twice so far, with attendees including Royal London director of policy Steve Webb, Margaret Snowden from the Pensions Administration Standards Association, Simon Chrystal of Workplace Solutions, PFS board member and former FCA technical specialist Rory Percival, plus specialists and professional indemnity insurers from across the sector.

They will be joined at future meetings by Sue Lewis from the FCA’s consumer panel and Michelle Cracknell who heads The Pensions Advisory Service. Meetings will be held on a bi-monthly basis.

Richards continued: “Demand for professional advice continues to grow in the wake of pension freedoms, coupled with the evident financial planning needs of an ageing demographic. But some of the resultant unintended consequences highlighted in part by the British Steel Pension Scheme fiasco demonstrate just how quickly public trust and sector reputation can be impacted.

“We want to play a greater role in protecting the interests of both the profession and the public. The taskforce has already started to develop a voluntary pension freedoms advice code, which will be made available to the public to provide greater transparency about what to expect from advisers.”

Steve Webb added: “Most advisers want to do more than simply comply with the regulatory minimum requirements and value examples of best practice. This taskforce will help to meet that need. With PI insurers becoming increasingly nervous, anything to provide reassurance that advisers are dedicated to doing the best for the clients is very welcome and will help facilitate high quality, impartial advice for those considering a (pension) transfer in the future.”