unbiased.co.uk calls on the government to include clear signposting to independent advice in its guidance guarantee

18 Jun 2014

 • unbiased.co.uk submits response to the Treasury’s consultation on Freedom and Choice in Pensions 

• unbiased.co.uk’s research reveals nearly three in four advisers (71%) believe an initial guidance session will not be sufficient to cover consumers’ retirement options

• The attributes of regulated financial advice feature highly in consumers’ understanding of what the government’s guidance guarantee will mean

• 92% of advisers say there needs to be a minimum standard for those providing guidance

unbiased.co.uk, the find an adviser search website, has submitted its formal response to the Treasury’s consultation on Freedom and Choice in Pensions. unbiased.co.uk is calling for greater clarity on the government’s guidance guarantee scheme to ensure independent financial advice is a key component in any guidance outcomes.

In order to shape its response to the consultation, unbiased.co.uk has surveyed its panel of whole of market advisers, to draw on the longstanding expertise and experience of this group in delivering advice to consumers. When asking advisers for their views on the proposed scheme, unbiased.co.uk’s research1 found nearly three quarters of advisers (71%) believe an initial guidance session will not be sufficient to cover the range of discussions necessary for those approaching pre-retirement.

The results show an overwhelming 92% of advisers strongly believe there should be a mandatory minimum standard of qualification for those providing guidance. Over three quarters (79%) stated QCF4 should be the minimum standard of qualification necessary for those giving guidance to consumers.

Its research2 also shows that consumers are confused about their understanding of advice and guidance, attributing characteristics of regulated financial advice to their understanding of what the guidance guarantee means. When asked what they believe the guidance guarantee will deliver to them, three of the top five attributes given by consumers were features of regulated financial advice.

The government announced in the Budget that it was looking to provide all people at retirement with a ‘guidance guarantee’. What do you think this pre-retirement guidance guarantee would deliver to you?
A general overview of retirement options available (21%)
Basic information on retirement planning (21%)
Advice on my retirement planning (16%)
Advice on what retirement income option is right for me (13%)
A guarantee that what I’m being told is right for me and my situation (11%)

unbiased.co.uk has highlighted the following key points in its consultation response:

• More clarity is needed on what guidance is
• Independent advice is a necessary component of pre-retirement choices
• Minimum qualifications for those giving guidance should be at least QCF level 4
• Initial guidance sessions should be at least an hour long and include clear signposting to independent financial advice

Karen Barrett, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, comments: “The guidance guarantee scheme provides a real opportunity to change the way consumers make their at-retirement choices for the better. But there are some fundamental concerns, highlighted by our research, which need to be addressed. We believe it is imperative that the Treasury is absolutely clear on what it means by guidance, and consumers have a complete understanding of what is being offered. It should also state a minimum session length and level of qualification for those providing the guidance, as well as clear signposting for people to seek advice.

“It has been proven time and time again that whole of market advice tailored to individual circumstances is the best way to ensure the greatest outcome for consumers. Our ‘Value of Advice’ research shows the average pension pot for those consumers who have been advised on their retirement planning is nearly double that of those who have not sought advice.

“We look forward to discussing with the government the need to clearly signpost a path to whole of market advice for consumers who are looking for further help making their retirement income decision.”


Notes to editors:

1 unbiased.co.uk surveyed its network of whole of market advisers via their newsletter and website between May 16-May 24 2014. Total survey responses: 218.

2 unbiased.co.uk commissioned Opinium Research to carry out an online survey of 2,003 UK adults aged 18+ from 29 April to 2 May 2014. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

unbiased.co.uk has a long-standing track record in putting consumers in contact with whole of market advisers. Its ‘find an adviser’ search profiles more than 24,000 professional advisers. The search on the unbiased.co.uk website and over 60 white label versions of the search across industry, product provider and media sites, receives over one million unique users annually. Retirement planning advice has always been the most frequently requested advice area and unbiased.co.uk deals with over 120,000 specific retirement advice queries every year.

For more information contact:

Anna Schirmer / Emily Falla / Kate Aitchison: 020 7294 3682

For expert commentary or case studies from over 200 media-friendly advisers, journalists should visit unbiased.co.uk Bluebook - the media adviser directory
Twitter: @unbiased_co_uk
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About unbiased.co.uk, the professional advice website:

unbiased.co.uk is the UK's most comprehensive free professional adviser search website, focused on empowering users with the resources they need to make better informed financial and legal decisions. We not only help consumers and businesses find the best adviser for their needs from 24,000 IFAs, financial advisers, mortgage advisers, solicitors and accountants listed on our search, but we also help them research the market by providing relevant information and tools. At unbiased.co.uk we are transparent about what we do and provide the easiest way for consumers to find and compare advisers meeting their requirements.

The unbiased.co.uk website launched in 1998 and rapidly became the UK’s leading online destination for consumers and businesses looking to find an adviser. Now attracting over one million visitors a year, unbiased.co.uk is the default adviser directory for consumer websites recommending their audience to ‘find an adviser’.

unbiased.co.uk has launched a new industry-facing website for the adviser community at business.unbiased.co.uk.

Unbiased Ltd promotes the benefits of financial and legal advice to consumers and businesses and would like to thank the following companies for their support:

Alliance Trust



Opinium Research

AXA Wealth


Canada Life Ltd

Royal London

Legal & General

Santander Asset Management




Standard Life Assurance Limited


Zurich Intermediary Group

Unbiased Ltd - Registered Office: 12-14 Berry St, London, EC1V 0AU. Registered in England: No. 06775878.

Category: Pensions & Retirement Tagged: guidance guarantee, Pension reforms

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