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Fears of setback to stakeholder as deadline looms

The FSA is set to bust its October deadline for stakeholder authorisation, throwing IFA plans for pre-sales of the new pension into disarray, according to pension experts.

A setback could mean IFAs are left racing against time to set up schemes ahead of April 2001 when stakeholder goes live.

Providers currently have access to scheme application packs from Opra but cannot proceed without knowing what the FSA&#39s final regulations will be.

The FSA&#39s consultation period on stakeholder closed last week, meaning the odds are stacked against the regulator starting the authorisation process in October.

Legal & General pensions marketing manager Andy Agar says: “Like every other life office, we want IFAs to go to clients knowing they are recommending an authorised provider but we will not be able to do that until the FSA outlines what is required.”

Scottish Mutual pensions development director Leslie Gray says: “Advisers will have to shoehorn their pre-selling into less time.”

In a separate blow, the DSS has issued a stakeholder guide aimed at employers which flies in the face of the FSA&#39s “reasons why not letters”.

The guide states there may be pension schemes more suitable than stakeholder, a stark contrast to the FSA&#39s thinking. It plans to force IFAs to justify recommending other products in the belief that stakeholder is best for most clients.

A DSS spokesman says: “All pension options should be considered. Stakeholder will not be the best option for everyone.”

Skandia brand manager Peter Jordan says: “It suggests people really do need independent financial advice.”

l Comment, p29

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