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Chris Hannant: Pension reforms bring major opportunities for advisers

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Next April will bring significant change to the whole of retirement planning. It will also bring major opportunities for advisers. 

The policy changes introduced by the Government on long-term care and pension flexibility identify advisers as part of the solution for the potentially confused consumer.

Both reforms introduce complexity and the need for the individual to make choices. But as with the RDR, the advisers who will make the most of the opportunity will be those who are best prepared.

To take advantage of potential referrals from local authorities in respect of long-term care, advisers should ensure they have relevant qualifications.

They will need to be able to demonstrate competence and knowledge.

Research carried out for Apfa by NMG Consulting shows that while 65 per cent of advisers are interested in the opportunities around care, only around one-third have existing qualifications and a further one-third are in the process of getting them or plan to.

Those who are thinking about it would be wise to start now to be ready for April.

Seventy-one per cent of advisers think the pension reforms represent the biggest opportunity. Planning is difficult while so much remains uncertain but it is not too early to think about the kind of business an advice firm wants from the reforms: which clients, what types of product would be good for them, pricing and how the firm will need to adapt if it is to make a pitch for new clients.

There is not much time before April and still a fair degree has to be decided. The changes are likely to take some time to take effect but advisers who get in there early and learn as the process develops will have an advantage when it comes to reaping the benefits.

Chris Hannant is director general at Apfa

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  1. With Income DrawDown likely to become almost the default option for those who don’t qualify for an underwritten/enhanced annuity, many dangers lie ahead also. Safety ratchets of one sort or another will, I predict, become an essential feature of all investment-linked retirement income products, particularly with the uncertain outlook for investment markets over the coming few years.

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