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Don’t let insurers hijack Osborne’s ‘unbiased’ guidance

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There are strong indications the Treasury may allow providers to offer George Osborne’s “impartial” guidance despite the widespread concerns of advisers, MPs and consumer groups.

Less than a year before the reforms kick in, officials are nervous about how quickly a guidance service can be created to deal with a potential avalanche of queries. The provider route is seen as an easy option.

Some insurers say they already provide a huge amount of information, such as pre-retirement wake-up packs, and extending this to offering guidance would be a natural step.

But Osborne’s new pensions regime offers the chance for some genuine fresh thinking. 

Insurers will be looking to sell all kinds of new retirement products to those seeking guidance and advice. To allow them to offer this guidance themselves does not feel right.

We are already seeing lots of “innovation” with more to come as traditional insurers look to reinvent themselves following the initial Budget shock.

I very much doubt insurers will be able to put aside their own business interests to offer a genuinely unbiased service to guide people through this new landscape.

But even if they somehow could, the public perception of firms with plenty to gain commercially hijacking what was pitched as a vital independent service will significantly undermine the reforms.

Goodbye from the editor

After five-and-a-half years at the helm, this my last issue as editor of Money Marketing.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to lead MM through the last few years as we’ve evolved into a multi-media brand and more recently transformed our print edition from a pink newspaper into modern weekly magazine.

It’s been a period of huge change for both the advice profession and the media and it does not appear the pace of this change will let up for either as technology and regulatory pressures create new threats and opportunities.

The biggest grumble from readers today is the same one I heard when as took over as editor: concern over the cost and effectiveness of regulation. These are costs ultimately borne by the client in extra fees and despite a range of regulatory actions, many of them positive, it is still hard to see how they are getting their money’s worth.

I’ll be leaving MM in the more than capable hands of Natalie Holt, who has been working with Money Marketing and sister title Mortgage Strategy for over six years and will continue to ensure the brand goes from strength to strength.

Follow Paul on twitter @mcmillan_paul 

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