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Steel DB pension crisis inspires industry change

Bath and London based Chartered Financial Planners firm is awarded the Pension Transfer Gold Standard by the Pensions Advice Taskforce.

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Pension transfers can be complicated and there are lots of things to think about before going ahead. The Government have therefore made it a legal requirement to seek financial advice before you can transfer a pension if you have ‘safeguarded benefits’,  you are in a defined benefit pension scheme or have a guaranteed annuity rate and your benefits are worth £30,000 or more. This protects consumers from ensuring they are fully aware of all the pros and cons of transferring.

More recently consumer confidence has suffered in the aftermath of the British Steel Defined Benefit transfer crisis. The Pensions Advice Taskforce, created by the Personal Finance Society and representatives from across the industry, has developed a gold standard specifically for defined benefit transfer advice. The taskforce believe the Gold Standard will help consumers understand what is involved in the pension transfer advice process, “what good looks like” and where to find it. So far, Unividual joins more than 200 advice firms who have signed up to the Pension Transfer Gold Standard.

Royal London director of policy Steve Webb, who was involved in developing the code, says: “Given the damage done to the reputation of the advice profession by a combination of unregulated introducers and rogue advisers in the British Steel case, any initiative which seeks to drive up standards and improve the reputation of the profession has to be welcomed.”

Director of Unividual and Chartered Financial Planner, Lewis Baxter, says : “Pension transfer advice is complex with outcomes that can transform lives for the better and for the worse. Pension transfers should therefore only be carried out by firms who are qualified to do so and who will act with integrity so that the client’s interests come before anything else.  Financial advice firms who adopt and promote this standard adhere to a set of principles giving clients confidence they are dealing with an ethical and professional financial planner that has your best interests at heart”

Greg Harris, a Unividual Chartered Financial Planner, was instrumental in the application process for the Gold Standard: “Unividual has committed to exceed the nine principles of the Pension Transfer Gold Standard. This means that we are committed to helping clients understand the implications of a transfer, so they can decide whether taking advice is appropriate before incuring any costs.  The advice will support your overall well-being in the context of your objectives, needs and wants. The standard is a reassurance that you are using a qualified professional that has the high level of technical skills required to advise on whether to transfer, and what to transfer into in order that you have the best chance of meeting your objectives.”

Marketing Director of Unividual, Cherie-Anne Baxter, comments: “Educating people nearing retirements on what good DB transfer advice looks like enables consumers to access high-quality advice through the myriad of different firms. I hope the Gold Standard will push the industry a few steps closer to restoring consumer confidence but we all know that it will take a lot more to rebuild trust. Every time something like the British Steel crisis happens it reminds me that this is why we set up Unividual. This is why we ensure all our advisers go through three years of intense training and come out of the other side Chartered. We are responsible for a lot of peoples’ money and we take what we do very seriously.  We all have a responsibility to do the right thing, represent our industry well and do what we can to promote the good things in our industry.”

Unividual is a family-run business that was established in 2000, it operates out of an office in London and Bath with 6 financial planners, five who are all Chartered Financial Planners.

Risk Warning: Transferring out of a final salary pension is unlikely to be in the best interests of most people

Date of article: 31st July 2019

Author: Cherie-Anne Baxter

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