Andy Barton: Why Aviva will be offering advice, again

Andy Barton, Aviva

This is a logical step for us. We have found that since April last year, our customers without an adviser definitely need to seek advice somewhere. We know a lot of these customers need advice and they expect Aviva to help.

Confusion over the difference between guidance and advice was not a cause for us. I know others are in that position but we decided that offering personal recommendations, full advice, was something that some of our customers wanted based on when they have called us after receiving their at-retirement packs.

It is great people now have more choices as a result of the pension freedoms but it also means they have more complex decisions to make. There has been a noticeable increase in people asking if we can help with advice and up to now we have had to say no.

Like a lot of organisations when the RDR came in, Aviva did not know what the demand for advice would be in the future so we stopped providing it. But in April last year all of a sudden that demand increased again and we are aiming to meet those customer requirements.

We are going to start with small team so by the end of the year we hope to have around 20 advisers. They will be based at home, the reason for that is we want them to be able to give face-to-face advice, and that is because we believe that is what people are looking for.

To start with it will be focused on the at retirement part, helping people bring their pots together and think about annuities and drawdown and how they can blend things together. After that, next year, we may look to start to help people as they get near retirement to plan on their savings and pensions up to retirement.

I believe we are talking about a different approach [to the likes of 1825 or Intrinsic]. We are recruiting and trying to grow organically, we want to find advisers with the right kind of experience and knowledge in the retirement space and who are comfortable with the investment links in areas like drawdown.

Andy Barton is client advice director at Aviva