30Nov

PPI claims firm fined by ICO over marketing texts

A claims management company (CMC) that specialises in payment protection insurance claims has been fined £80,000 by the data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Birmingham-based UKMS Money Solutions Limited, which trades as UK Money Solutions, sent more than 1.3 million unsolicited marketing texts between April and June 2015.

The company relied upon the assurances of the list broker from which the individuals’ contact details were purchased, and did not conduct sufficient checks of its own to ensure that the recipients had indeed consented to receiving the texts.

Marketing texts can in normal circumstances be sent only to persons who have explicitly given their consent to receiving them, and giving details of how to opt out of future communications within the message is not sufficient. The only permitted exception is when customers have enquired about goods or services in the past and their contact details were obtained in this way. Here it is acceptable to message them about similar goods and services, and to provide a simple means by which they can opt out of future messages. However, this exemption did not apply in this case.

The fine will be reduced by 20% to £64,000 if payment is made by December 17 2015. If UKMS does not pay by this time, or elects to appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal, then the full £80,000 will be payable.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the ICO, said:

“UKMS relied on their data suppliers’ word that the people on the lists had agreed to be contacted. That’s simply not good enough. UKMS should have known that the responsibility to ensure they had the right consent to send messages to people rests with them.”

The ICO says it is assisting the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice as it investigates the marketing practices of five more CMCs.

The ICO can fine companies up to £500,000 if they breach the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Section 22 of these Regulations covers the sending of electronic messages. As companies can now be fined simply because their marketing communications cause annoyance or inconvenience, any company that chooses to make unsolicited calls or send unwanted marketing texts is risking being subject to enforcement action by the ICO.

In the same week as the UKMS fine, in November 2015, the ICO took a number of other actions in its fight against nuisance calls and texts. It fined two suppliers of call blocking software – Nuisance Call Blocker Ltd and Telecom Protection Service Ltd – £90,000 and £80,000 respectively, for making marketing phone calls to individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The watchdog also wrote to more than 1,000 list brokers asking them to provide details of their arrangements for ensuring consumers give consent to their data being processed, and of the arrangements they have in place for ensuring TPS registered customers are not contacted.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

27Nov

MOJ issues report on its third quarter enforcement action

The Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has released details of the wide ranging enforcement action it took against claims management companies (CMCs) between July and September 2015. The MoJ cancelled the licences of 59 companies during this period, issued 43 warnings and commenced 21 new investigations.

In the area of financial services claims, which includes payment protection insurance and packaged bank account (PBA) claims, 10 warnings were issued, three investigations were ongoing during the quarter and one new investigation commenced. Regarding nuisance calls and texts, 12 companies were warned, five investigations were ongoing and one new investigation commenced. An additional six warnings were handed to personal injury CMCs.

The MoJ also imposed a monetary penalty for the first time during the third quarter. In August, it fined The Hearing Clinic £220,000 for making large numbers of unsolicited calls regarding hearing loss compensation. Two further fines were imposed in October, just after the reporting period for this bulletin ended. Rock Law Limited was fined £570,000 for taking payments from clients without express permission being given, and for pressurising clients into accepting their terms and conditions. Then Complete Claim Solutions Limited received a fine of £91,845 for the calls it made promoting its personal injury compensation services.

Mention is also made in the quarterly round-up of the special bulletin the MoJ issued in July regarding PBA claims. CMCs were asked to comply with the following requirements in this area:

• Companies need to understand what rules applied regarding PBAs at the time the account was sold
• They must assess the benefits available under the PBA, whether these benefits would have been of use to the client at the time of the sale and which benefits the client has made use of
• Claimants should be made aware that a successful PBA claim may lead to the account being cancelled
• Client-specific claims, containing specific details of why the PBA is believed to be unsuitable for the client, should be submitted to banks, rather than simply sending generic claim letters
• Companies should look at previous FOS decisions when assessing whether a claim has a reasonable likelihood of success
• Subject Access Requests should not be routinely made when pursuing claims

In addition to its own enforcement work, the MoJ has also worked extensively with law enforcement agencies regarding personal injury claims issues. It made 15 referrals to the Government Agency Intelligence Network concerning ongoing criminal investigations, provided evidence in a criminal trial for alleged money laundering and insurance fraud allegations, and provided four statements to police forces to assist with criminal investigations. In addition, 31 companies were found to be operating in the personal injury arena without authorisation, and have been referred to the specialist MoJ team that investigates unauthorised activity.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

25Nov

FCA accepts some blame for HBOS collapse

In November 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published its report into the 2008 collapse of HBOS. The report says the major responsibility for the collapse lies with the Bank’s directors and senior management, but the former financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), is also heavily criticised.

HBOS was the banking entity created from the 2001 merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland.

The HBOS board is said to have pursued a growth strategy without fully appreciating the risks involved, and to have engaged in reckless lending. Many of the directors had insufficient experience of the banking sector.

Initially, the solution was thought to be Lloyds Bank’s September 2008 acquisition of HBOS, creating the new Lloyds Banking Group, but the problems at HBOS proved to be much worse than Lloyds’ due diligence had suggested. As a result, the Government was forced to shell out £20 billion in October 2008 to rescue Lloyds Banking Group, and the taxpayer took a 43% stake in the group.

According to the report, due to deficiencies in its supervisory approach, the FSA failed to understand the risks HBOS was taking, and was unable to intervene until it was too late.

Andrew Bailey, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, CEO of the Prudential Regulation Authority and Accountable Executive for the HBOS Review said:

“The story of the failure of HBOS is important both to provide a record of an event which required a major contribution by the public purse, and because it is a story of the failure of a bank that did not undertake complicated activity or so-called racy investment banking. HBOS was at root a simple bank that nonetheless managed to create a big problem.”

At the same time a separate report by Andrew Green QC was published, which comments on the enforcement action taken by the FSA/FCA against HBOS executives. Mr Green has invited the FCA to consider whether further enforcement action is desirable, and has specifically mentioned that prohibiting individuals from working in financial services could be appropriate. The FCA will conduct a review of whether additional enforcement action is appropriate in 2016.

So far, only former HBOS head of corporate lending Peter Cummings has been banned from financial services as a result of the collapse. He was also fined £500,000. Not surprisingly, Mr Cummings feels he has been ‘singled out’.

Now, former chairman Lord Stevenson, former chief executives Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby, former head of the Treasury division Lindsay Mackay and former finance director Mike Ellis could be amongst the candidates for an industry ban. However, of these, only Mr Ellis and Mr Mackay still work in the industry (at Skipton Building Society and Alpha Bank respectively) so any FCA prohibitions may have a limited impact. It would be up to the Insolvency Service to decide whether to ban them from acting as a director of any organisation.

However, as a six year time limit has passed, the FCA will not be able to impose any additional regulatory fines on any individuals. The time limit may have passed as a result of the need to conduct a ‘Maxwellisation’ process, allowing those criticised in the report to respond prior to publication.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

23Nov

Insurance broker Robin Choudhry convicted of 13 offences

On November 16 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned insurance broker Robin Choudhury (also known as Misba Uddin) from working in financial services. Misba Properties Limited was amongst the firms for which Mr Choudhry carried out controlled functions.

This follows Mr Choudhry’s 2013 conviction. He pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to 13 offences “of dishonestly making a false representation to make gain for himself or another or cause loss to another or expose another to risk”, for which he was sentenced to six years and four months in prison.

No holder of a controlled function who receives a custodial sentence of this kind can ever realistically expect to be allowed to continue to work in financial services. If the criminal conduct occurs prior to an individual’s application for approved person status, then they should expect the application to be unsuccessful. Mr Choudhry’s FCA ban comes as no surprise.

The previous month (October 2015) saw UBS trader Kweku Mawuli Adoboli banned from the industry. His fraudulent trading activities saw his bank lose £1.4 billion, in addition to the £2.8 billion that was wiped off its share price. In November 2012 he had been found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of offences under the Fraud Act and sentenced to concurrent jail terms of four and seven years. Mr Adoboli has since been released on licence after serving half of his seven year term.

Paul Robson was banned by the FCA in February 2015 after he was convicted in August 2014 in the United States for manipulating the LIBOR interest rate while working at Rabobank. He will not be sentenced until 2017, while he co-operates with the continuing investigations of the US authorities. He recently gave evidence against colleagues Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti at their trials.

Sometimes the regulatory action comes prior to the individual receiving a custodial sentence. In 2008, the former financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), banned mortgage broker Asim Hussain over the accuracy of information on applications submitted to lenders. Seven years later, he pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to falsifying clients’ income and employment details on mortgage applications, and to additional tax evasion charges, and received a suspended two year jail sentence and 240 hours of community service.

Mortgage broker Michael Lewis however elected to continue trading even after his 2011 ban, imposed by the FSA, for submitting mortgage applications containing incorrect client employment details. By trading without authorisation, under the names The Lewis Partnership and The Medway Partnership, Mr Lewis committed a criminal offence under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. In June 2013, he pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to this offence and to offences under the Fraud Act 2006 in respect of the falsified application details, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article

18Nov

ICO fines debt management lead generator over unsolicited calls

Port Talbot, South Wales-based lead generation company Oxygen Limited has been fined £120,000 by data protection regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it made more than two million unsolicited automated calls regarding debt management services.

Although the message invited recipients to press 9 to opt out, the recipients had not consented to receiving these calls. The message also incorrectly claimed that the communication was a “government awareness call”, and gave no indication of who the firm making the calls was.

Firms must identify themselves at the start of each marketing communication, and provide their contact details; and must not suggest they are in any way connected with the government or a public body if this is not the case. Automated calls cannot be made to anyone who has not explicitly consented to receiving them – including an ‘opt out’ option within the call is not sufficient.

Oxygen’s defence was that the calls were made by another party on its behalf, and that this other party had undertaken not to call consumers who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Oxygen also told the ICO that another third party, from whom the list of telephone numbers was published, had informed them that all the persons on the list had opted in to receiving marketing communications. However, the ICO was unlikely to be swayed by this attempt to deflect blame, as firms who instigate marketing calls must satisfy themselves that the recipients have opted in, and not rely on the assurances of others.

Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said:

“This is a classic example of a company that has ignored the regulations. Companies making recorded marketing calls like this need permission, and need to be clear who is making the calls. Oxygen Ltd did neither, and even falsely implied they were part of a government campaign.

“If they thought they could avoid detection by paying a separate company to make the calls, or by presenting the calls as coming from a mobile phone number, they were mistaken. The public complained about these calls, and we have acted.

“This should be a lesson to all businesses, if you set up a marketing campaign it falls to you to provide proof of consent for every automated call made and to identify your business as the company making the calls.

“Any company acting the way Oxygen did can expect to be investigated and receive a large fine from the ICO.”

The ICO believes it would have been unable to take action against Oxygen had the law not been changed in April 2015. But now the ICO can take enforcement action simply because the calls cause annoyance or inconvenience to recipients, whereas previously the watchdog needed to demonstrate ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ had been caused. Of the 2,038,067 automated calls made on Oxygen’s behalf, 1,015,268 were made after the change in legislation on 6 April 2015.

Oxygen’s fine will be reduced by 20% to £96,000 if it pays the sum due by December 7 2015. The full amount of £120,000 will be payable if it fails to pay by this date, or if it appeals the judgement to the First-Tier Tribunal.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

16Nov

Credit broker loses interim permission for failing to comply with FOS awards

London-based credit broker Highview Financial Services Limited has lost its authorisation to conduct consumer credit activity for failing to pay compensation awards as directed by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Despite repeated requests by the FOS and the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the firm failed to pay the sums due.

Failing to pay FOS awards is a direct breach of FCA rule DISP 3.7.12, and is also considered to constitute a failure to comply with FCA Principle 11, requiring firms to co-operate with regulators and other bodies. Any firm that fails to pay an award as directed by the FOS can expect to be stripped of their permissions by the FCA.

After the FOS found that Highview had taken a fee of £79.95 from a client bank account without authorisation, it ordered the firm to refund the amount of the fee, plus interest, and pay an additional £50 for distress and inconvenience. Another client also complained about a £79.95 fee being taken, and this client was awarded £75 for distress and inconvenience in addition to the order to refund the fee. So Highview has lost its authorisation for what appear to be fairly trivial sums.

Highview used the trading names Go Direct Finance, The Loans Line, The Loans Team, The Loans People and Liberate Loans.

The episode also illustrates the importance of not taking fees from clients’ accounts without their authorisation. A credit broker cannot request or take a fee or charge unless it complies with a series of requirements, which also apply to any fees to be paid to third parties.

Firstly, the firm must provide a credit broking information notice, which communicates the following information to the customer in a durable medium (a format which allows the customer to take away the agreement and consider its provisions):

• The full legal name of the firm as it appears in the Financial Services Register
• A statement that the firm is a broker and not a lender (or if the firm also acts as a lender, a statement that it is acting as a broker for the purposes of this transaction)
• That the customer is required to, or may be required to, pay a fee or charge for the firm’s services
• The amount of the fee or charge, or where this is not known, the basis on which it will be calculated
• When the fee or charge is payable, and details of the method by which the payment will be collected (e.g. via deduction from the contract, via cheque etc).

(Apart from the firm’s trading name and contact details, no other information should be included on the information notice).

Secondly, the firm must receive confirmation from the customer, also in a durable medium, that they have received the above information and are aware of its contents.

The firm must maintain records of each information notice, and the associated customer confirmations.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

13Nov

Cash EuroNet to pay £1.7m in redress over lending criteria issues

Cash EuroNet LLC, which offers payday and other short-term loans under the well-known trading names QuickQuid and Pounds To Pocket, is to pay £1.7 million in compensation to 3,940 of its customers, after the intervention of its regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A loan taken out with QuickQuid is usually the traditional 30 day payday loan, whereas a Pounds To Pocket loan might have a term of six to 12 months.

A skilled person’s report, commissioned by the FCA, found that the firm had on a number of occasions provided loans to customers who would be unable to repay the sum due. Most of these loans were granted between April and August 2014. Compensation will now be paid to the affected customers as follows:

• 2,523 customers will have their loan written off
• 961 customers will receive a cash refund of part of the interest payable, plus an allowance for additional interest at 8%
• 456 customers will receive a cash refund and have their loan written off

The firm will contact all affected customers and aims to complete the redress exercise within 90 days. Since these loans were granted, it has adopted new lending criteria.

Jonathan Davidson, director of supervision – retail and authorisations at the FCA, said:

“We are pleased that CashEuroNet is working with us to address our concerns. It is important that firms carry out appropriate affordability checks and pay particular attention to fair treatment of those who have trouble meeting their loan repayments.”

Nick Drew, UK managing director of CashEuroNet, said:

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the FCA and the skilled person to review our processes, and we are pleased they’ve witnessed how seriously we take our regulatory responsibilities and our constant desire to achieve good outcomes for our customers.

“We apologise to the 4,000 affected customers and we are pleased to be able to address this with the announced redress plan.”

The action comes just days after Dollar Financial, which offers payday loans under the trading name The Money Shop, announced it was to pay £15.4 million in compensation to some 147,000 customers, after the FCA identified issues with its affordability checks and debt collection practices.

Most of the UK’s leading short-term lenders have now been subject to some form of FCA action, and it seems all but certain that the regulator will intervene again in the payday market before too long. Many of the regulator’s actions against payday lenders are concerned with their past conduct, so all lenders can do right now is ensure their current practices comply with the FCA’s rules, and that they co-operate fully with the FCA if they are subject to any form of investigation.

In August 2015, Ariste Holding Limited (trading as Cash Genie) announced it was to pay £20 million in compensation regarding issues with the firm’s fee charging practices and its stance on rolling over loans.

In August 2014, Wonga wrote off a significant number of loans, on the grounds that the customers concerned would not have received loans under the lender’s new affordability assessment criteria.

In June 2014, Wonga announced it would be paying £2.6 million in compensation to 45,000 customers who received debt collection letters from the firm which appeared to come from law firms, firms which do not in fact exist.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

11Nov

Consumer body criticises level of fee information on advisers’ websites

Consumer organisation Which? has criticised independent financial advisers (IFAs) for failing to display their fees and charges on their websites. Which? reviewed the websites of 500 advisory firms, and found that 349 of these (69.8%) gave no indication on their websites as to how much their advice might cost.

Whilst firms are required under Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules to disclose fees at the start of the advice process, Which? says it would prefer that the client already has an idea of what they are likely to pay before they reach this stage. It says that once the adviser has met the client, the client may be subjected to a “full sales pitch”. The FCA however recommends disclosing fees on the firms’ website as ‘best practice’.

The consumer organisation says that only 2% of the sites gave genuinely useful information on this subject. Of the sites that did make some attempt at explaining their fees, most did not give enough information to give a complete indication of what a client might pay.

Which? also contacted 206 IFAs and found that 12% of these would not disclose their costs even when asked via an initial telephone enquiry. These IFAs also charged very different amounts for the same service – the average price quoted for advice on accessing a £150,000 pension fund was £2,516, but some advisers quoted as much as £7,000 for this.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

“Paying for financial advice could be one of the best investments people can make, especially if they are taking advantage of the new pension freedoms, but a lack of transparency on fees could put them off at the first hurdle.

“Good IFAs have nothing to fear by publishing fees online and we believe that if some firms can do it, then the others have no excuses. We need IFAs to be much more open about charges or the regulator should step in and change the rules.”

Leaders of IFA trade associations did not welcome the report. Despite acknowledging that not disclosing fees ahead of the financial review was “like walking into a shop with no prices,” Chris Hannant of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers said Which? was “adding to the sense of fear around going to see an adviser”. He accused them of “damaging consumers’ interests just for the sake of the headline”.

Mr Hannant ended by saying:

“The message you take away from the [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Which?] press release is you shouldn’t go to an adviser because it’s all a bit murky.”

Keith Richards of the Personal Finance Society made similar comments, saying the report “risks continuing to fuel mistrust of the sector.”

The cost of advice is one of the major issues to be covered by the Financial Advice Market Review – the study to be conducted by the FCA and the Treasury – which will examine barriers to accessing financial advice.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.
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09Nov

FCA director speaks about internal investigations

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s director of investigations has urged firms to proceed with caution when conducting internal investigations into potential misconduct.

Firms may on occasion decide that a matter requires an internal investigation, and may then either conduct this investigation themselves, or delegate it to a third party. Sometimes, these investigations might be conducted following an agreement with the regulator.

Addressing a conference hosted by law firm Pinsent Masons in early November 2015, the FCA’s Jamie Symington said that his organisation could not “naively accept firms’ conclusions” when it came to internal investigations. Whilst acknowledging that internal investigations were entirely appropriate where there was little likelihood of the FCA wanting to take enforcement action, he also commented that if enforcement action was a possibility, then the issue became more “problematic”.

He added that relying on the results of internal investigations was most certainly inappropriate when there were suggestions that a criminal offence or a very serious breach of the FCA rules had been committed. In some cases, an internal investigation would be inappropriate as it could result in employees being ‘tipped off’ about the fact they are under investigation, thus denying the FCA the chance to conduct covert monitoring of the individuals concerned.

Mr Symington then told the delegates that firms need to consider whether the issue being investigated is something about which the FCA should be notified. In these circumstances, the firm must inform the regulator not just of the matter that is being investigated, but must also provide the FCA with details of the scope of the internal investigation that will be carried out. He reminded the conference that large fines have been levied in the past after firms failed to notify the FCA of important matters.

He then addressed the thorny issue of ‘legal privilege’, where firms claim that they are legally prevented from disclosing to the regulator written notes of investigatory interviews with employees. Mr Symington dismissed this defence as “absolutely absurd”, even if the interview is conducted by a legal professional, and added:

“If a regulated firm wishes to share information with us, there should be no question it should be done properly and in a transparent manner with a proper record.”

“Let me be clear: where firms propose to carry out or commission an internal investigation themselves, the starting point is that we expect them to share the core product of their investigation – i.e. the evidence– with us.”

In closing, he remarked that the FCA never “sub-contracted” its investigations to the firms, and even if it was acting on the basis of records of an internal investigation, it would always draw its own conclusions from the evidence.

So in summary, firms are certainly entitled to investigate most cases of potential internal misconduct. But they must consider whether the allegations need to be reported to the FCA immediately, must inform the FCA of the scope of their investigation, must make all records of the investigation available to the regulator, and must respect the FCA’s right to take enforcement action.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

06Nov

Survey reveals amounts customers are prepared to pay for pensions advice

The advent of the recent pension freedoms has arguably made it more important than ever that the public have access to quality, affordable financial advice. However, a study by research agency One Poll, on behalf of price comparison website Money.co.uk, has shown that the average consumer is prepared to pay just £253 on average for pensions advice. Four fifths of the 669 over 55s surveyed were not prepared to pay anything at all.

In contrast, a four figure advice fee is commonplace amongst financial advisers, even for the simplest transactions. Firms’ advice fees are rising further in many cases as a result of the ever-rising cost of regulation.

The Government offers a free guidance service known as Pension Wise, but this service can only provide one conversation of around 45 minutes, and can only describe the available options rather than recommending an individual’s best course of action. Furthermore, those wishing to switch from one pension contract to another in order to better utilise the freedoms must seek professional advice.

Two advisers gave differing reactions to the survey in press interviews. Alan Solomons, director of Alpha Investments and Financial Planning, commented:

“Most people are employees and have no idea what professional fees are – the regulatory burden or of what is required to do a professional job.

“I have been approached by people who just want a piece of paper to show their pension company that they have had advice. Most people have no idea about the impact of compound interest on their funds nor the impact of inflation on their pension.”

Matthew Harris, owner of Dalbeath Financial Planning, called on advisers to look at ways of providing low cost advice. He said:

“We don’t advocate IFAs helping clients to do something that is plainly a bad decision, but we do believe that as long as people are informed of the pros and cons of pension withdrawals then they have the right to make their own choices. IFAs need to adapt to this new world and offer low cost ad-hoc advice.”

Pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann has previously said it would be “ridiculous” to scrap the requirement for certain pensioners to take regulated financial advice. At present, regulated advice is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to switch a pension pot worth £30,000 or more from a defined benefit (final salary) scheme to a defined contribution (money purchase) scheme; or for anyone wishing to switch more than £30,000 out of a scheme containing safeguarded benefits.

The gap between what consumers are prepared to pay for advice and the fees that are likely to be charged by advisory firms will undoubtedly be one of the areas the Financial Conduct Authority and the Treasury will consider in the Financial Advice Market Review. This review will look at the barriers preventing many people from accessing financial advice.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

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