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FSA should emphasise advice need

After reading an article on the FSA’s misleading annuity listings, I had a quick scan round the Money Made Clear section of the FSA’s website, I have to say it appears to be pretty good and user-friendly but it is not what it overtly implies itself to be, namely whole of market.

It says: “These tables are comprehensive” (which, in the minds of most people means whole of market) but then goes on to say: “A few companies have chosen not to provide us with data, and these are detailed on the tables.” How can the tables be comprehensive if they omit data from comp-anies that have chosen not to provide the FSA with data?

What the site should emphasise to a far greater degree is that the options available for deployment of a pension fund for retirement income are myriad, even within the annuity domain, and that only a whole of market independent financial adviser, possibly a specialist, will have the knowledge of and access to all the different products. That statement is clear, it is simple and it is the truth, so why does it not appear on the FSA website?

Given the infinite combination of parameters involved in structuring a annuity package, the site could set out some examples of why a lay person might prefer to seek whole of market independent financial advice in preference to trying to choose for themselves the right annuity package.

Much greater emphasis should be given to the improvements that can be achieved by way of underwritten annuities, as these seem to be arguably the most important development in the annuity market in recent years. For that, you need an IFA.

Third-way retirement income products are all very well but they all seem to be complicated, they all seem to be different and all of them are fundamentally restricted by the shackle of the Government Actuary’s Department’s annuity rates.

For most people in most circumstances, an annuity has the inestimable advan- tages of relative simplicity and high security. But only a good IFA can put together the right bespoke package for each individual client.

Why is the FSA so dead set against acknowledging that fact and drawing it to the attention of the buying public who need good independent whole of market financial advice? All we see instead is a statement from an unnamed FSA spokesman to the effect that their website provides everything anyone could need to find for themselves the best annuity package.

Julian Stevens

Harvest IFM

Bristol

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