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Delegates divided on referrals

A discussion on the merits of general advisers referring retirement clients on to specialists drew differing views from round table delegates.

PI Financial Dixon founder Tim Sutcliffe was sceptical that specialist advice desks give full information but added that things are improving.

He said: “There are a number of annuity desks. My exp- erience is that there are very few that are up to date and properly offering all the options. I would think twice before referring to a supposed specialist but there is an opportunity for those specialists to display all the options properly and, if they do, they may take referrals from a big number of advisers.”

The Retirement Partnership director Steve Lewis warned that advisers must have a common process for each client or they risk breaching TCF principles. He said: “If you have a general practice with an adviser who deals with retirees every two or three months, you have to ensure that individual has a common thought process, a common analysis tool and common communications so a similar solution is reached. This is treating customers fairly.

“There may be times when the adviser should recognise that a client’s circumstances are sophisticated enough to refer to a specialist adviser. Many advisers do not do mortgages, they pass it to a specialist. It should be the same for retirement. Either I do it and I have my process or I give it over to the guy who does know how to do it.”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail said: “It is hard for someone who does it only very occasionally to be competent.”

Thinc group director of research David Cartwright said: “It is do-able. You have a structured advice process and if you do three or four a year, you follow the process. I think then you have an audit trail but in some areas it is more difficult.”

Living Time sales and marketing director Dave Harris said: “I would encourage every IFA to get involved and either embrace it themselves or with help from third parties because properly offering all the options can be done more cost-effectively and more easily than they ever thought possible.”

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