The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) are to give pension guidance to UK employees from April 2015, the government has announced.
The news follows a previous government statement released in July which proposed that the guidance would be provided by independent organisations rather than pension providers.
Speaking in response to the announcement, Chancellor George Osborne said the decision would give people ‘more freedom’ to manage their own pensions and would be ‘key’ to the government’s long-term economic plan.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice Bureau, the organisation who will be providing face-to-face advice to employees, said: “The right guidance can be the key to a financially stable retirement. People who have diligently saved year after year towards their retirement deserve to choose how to make the most of their pension pot and good guidance is central to helping people make the right decisions for them.”
Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service who would be offering telephone support, said she was hopeful that the two organisations’ ‘combined knowledge, expertise and reputation’ would provide the best service for those at the retirement stage.
However, David Parfett, Senior Corporate Pensions Consultant at Aon Employee Benefits said it was ‘surprising’ that the Money Advice Service (MAS) would have no involvement in the new pensions guidance, although it ‘made sense’ to utilise both The Pensions Advisory Service and Citizens Advice Bureau due to their large network of bureaus across the country.
“However, I imagine there will need to be significant additional resources allocated, as well as a comprehensive training program to ensure all those manning this service are fully up to speed,” he said. Parfett also voiced concern over the possibility that employees may believe they are getting free advice – as implied in both organisations’ names - rather than guidance.
“Once such employees ask for specific advice, they will need to be directed to a regulated financial adviser, which is when it stops being free,” he added. “This is why it’s important that employees appreciate the significant difference between free guidance and proper advice.”
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