Labour MP accuses ‘advisers’ of getting around cold-calling ban

Hannah Godfrey reports...

Labour MP Ruth George has accused advisers of “cleverly” circumventing the pensions cold calling ban by offering to give advice on a different topic.

Speaking at a Work and Pensions Select Committee hearing on pension costs and transparency on Wednesday morning, George (pictured) suggested advisers had been “cleverly” getting around the recent cold-calling ban.

“There were 10.9 million cold calls about pensions in the last year,” the select committee member said. “This is something that is going on at scale. Advisers are very clever in that they will phone up – reportedly about something else – but then arrange to make a visit and go and see people to give them financial advice, not specifically about pensions.”

George said one of her constituents had found themselves in such a situation. She said they were “persuaded” to put their life savings into a self-invested personal pension, which apparently “crashed” some three months later.

George said the adviser had “no dealings with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)” and only had to stop their current business because he could not get any professional indemnity insurance.

She then went on to claim they were still operating. They shut their business in January but started up again in February under a different name, she added, calling it a case of phoenixing.

It is unclear whether George meant the accused ‘adviser’ in question was not regulated by the FCA – and therefore not strictly an adviser – or whether they had not been in contact with, or contacted by, the financial watchdog.

In reply, economic secretary to the Treasury MP John Glen said he would get a sense of the size of the problem, which has seen ordinary savers investing in high risk investments, and speak to the FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey.

The ban on pensions cold calling officially became law in December after an arduous journey through the legislative process.