PFS creates ‘Pensions Advice Taskforce’ in wake of British Steel scandal

The PFS has created the 'Pensions Advice Taskforce' to protect consumers from the 'unintended consequences' of the retirement freedoms legislation, after the British Steel "fiasco". Victoria McKeever finds out more

The Personal Finance Society (PFS) has created the ‘Pensions Advice Taskforce’ to protect consumers from the ‘unintended consequences’ of the retirement freedoms legislation, after the British Steel “fiasco”.

The taskforce has a voluntary code of professional standards for pension advice.

Among those to join PFS chief executive Keith Richards on the taskforce is former pensions minister and Royal London director of policy Steve Webb and Pensions Administration Standards Association chair Margaret Snowden.

Workplace Solutions chief executive Simon Chrystal, PFS board member and former Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) technical specialist Rory Percival and specialists/PI insurers from across the sector have also been recruited.

FCA consumer panel chair Sue Lewis and The Pensions Advisory Service chief executive Michelle Cracknell were confirmed as the latest participants.

Meetings will be held on a bi-monthly basis.

“Its main focus will be to create a common set of professional standards, encourage the sharing of good practice and provide a code of conduct that gives clear guidance in areas of ambiguity for everyone involved in retirement planning,” explained Richards (pictured).

“The sector is predominantly made up of small firms, who are often not in a position to benchmark themselves against the wider market,” he continued. “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.”

Demand for advice has continued to rise in the wake of freedoms, coupled with the evident financial planning needs of an aging demographic, said Richards.

“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,” he commented.

“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.”

Webb said: “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 to facilitate high quality, impartial advice for those considering a transfer in the future.”