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Claire Trott: Heads together for best pension outcomes

Prior to A-day, pension work was a financial planning exercise dealt with by just one profession.

There was very little crossover with others in terms of calculations and advice, but since the advent of pension freedoms in 2015, professionals have needed to work together to get the best outcomes for clients.

The best bits of each of those professions must align to develop a financial plan tailored to the individual’s needs.

It can be difficult, but building the right professional connections and knowing when to ask for help is key to producing a happy client.

Accountants are the obvious professional connection for advisers. This link has become even more important since the introduction of the tapered annual allowance.

Communication needs to be as clear and accurate as possible, but being able to talk directly with a client’s accountant will ensure the allowances are calculated correctly, carry forward is fully utilised if needs be and the right figures are reported.

This should avoid many of the difficulties should scheme pays be required. The adviser should be able to talk directly with the scheme and ensure that what the accountant is reporting is correct and achieved.

The accountant should also get involved in the subject of employer pension contributions generally and give a view on the “wholly and exclusively” rules. Having a good relationship with a client’s accountant can make these discussions more efficient because planning in advance is often key.

Building the right professional connections is key to producing a happy client

Advisers can also help accountants plan the best way to extract funds from a company into a tax-efficient environment, such as a pension.

Lawyers only tend to get involved in pensions when there are issues such as a divorce. Many lawyers are not aware of the practical implications a pension share can create, especially on the topic of lifetime allowance protections.

I have seen many unintended consequences where the lawyer believed they had achieved a good deal for their client only to cause tax charges for one or both parties involved. Being on hand to help lawyers through these issues will result in reciprocal help and referrals.

Property professionals are another great source of mutual referrals and joint clients. Pensions and property have a long history but we all know decisions have to be made for the right reasons, which is where advisers play a key role.

These kinds of connections can come in the form of estate agents, managing agents, conveyancers or solicitors: pretty much every part of the property food chain could need help with clients or even their own businesses.

Working with other professionals can only make us better at what we do. Each professional brings different skills to the table and combining these ensures the best outcome for both your clients and theirs.

Claire Trott is head of pensions strategy at Technical Connection

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