The guide replaced last year’s update to the original guidance issued in 2016 and followed the FCA’s March policy statement ‘advising on pension transfers.’
PFS chief executive, Keith Richards, said mandated professional advice was a “vital consumer protection component and the updated guide aims to give members clarification around changing advice requirements, as well as ongoing good practice gained from subject matter experts and practitioners from across the sector.”
He added: “Defined benefit pension transfer advice continues to be a key area of focus for the FCA, government and consumer lobbyists, so it is particularly important that firms advising on DB pension transfers ensure their clients fully understand the implications of a proposed transfer before deciding whether to proceed.
“Accordingly, our new guide covers a number of important areas, including risk appetite, the need for holistic advice, qualifications and contingency charging.
“It also features sections on the wider tax issues, cash flow modelling, insistent clients and death benefits.”
Mr Richards said that after a programme of specific supervisory work, the FCA recently concluded that only 47 per cent of the DB to DC transfer advice reviewed could be shown to be
suitable, based on the information in the adviser’s file, which will “inevitably” lead to further scrutiny and supervision.
He continued: “We are particularly alive to the issues surrounding the availability of professional indemnity insurance (PII) for DB transfer advice and have seen evidence of withdrawn cover, or increased cost and excesses, for some advice firms at renewal.
“While this is an overreaction in many instances, it can only be addressed if we establish a clear picture of what good looks like in the pension transfer space and in particular the concerns raised regarding conflicts of interest and insistent client transactions.”
Mr Richards believed it was “critical” that concerns were addressed whether real or perceived, so the profession was not “derailed by the actions of a small number of firms.”