The Department for Work and Pensions has written to providers requesting detailed information on post-RDR consultancy charging deals.
Consultancy charging is a concept devised by the FSA to allow advisers to charge employees’ pension pots for advice given to the employer.
The future of consultancy charging was thrown into doubt in November when pensions minister Steve Webb wrote to the Association of British Insurers saying the DWP was launching an “urgent review” into the charging method and was considering banning it altogether.
Last week, it emerged Government officials are investigating the extra protection a trustee provides to trust-based scheme members when a consultancy charge is proposed and whether similar safeguards can be put in place for contract-based schemes.
In an email to providers, seen by Money Marketing, the DWP says: “Now that RDR has been in force for six weeks, we understand that providers are beginning to receive requests from advisers for quotes for schemes which include consultancy charging.
“This information will be crucial to our review and we hope that you will be able and willing to provide anonymised data from the requests that you have received so far.
“The template attached sets out the information that we would like to collect on each scheme that you have been asked to quote for which includes a consultancy charge. Please include requests received between 1 January and 15 February 2013.”
The DWP has asked for information about the type and size of employers which plan to use a consultancy charge, whether the scheme is being used for automatic enrolment, the average earnings of the employees and contribution rates.
It has also requested specific details on the structure of both initial and ongoing consultancy charges.
Aegon regulatory strategy director Steven Cameron says: “This is a positive sign that the DWP wants to understand how the market is developing.
“It is early days and there is plenty of opportunity to make sure consultancy charging use develops for the benefit of all parties.
“We remain firmly for consultancy charging provided it is used responsibly. It is critical that advisers continue to play their key role in delivering workplace pensions and good member outcomes.”
Providers have been given until 6 March to send the information to the DWP. The Government has previously said it will make afinal decision on the future of consultancy charging in March or April.
A DWP spokeswoman says: “We have been gathering evidence as part of our urgent review into the interaction between automatic enrolment and consultancy charges. We will make an announcement in the Spring.”