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Govt fails to change Pension Wise website’s ‘misleading’ errors

The Government’s retirement guidance website continues to contain “misleading” errors and remains in development mode several days into the reforms it is designed to support.

The Pension Wise website went live on 11 February but is currently still in ‘beta’ mode, meaning it is under development.

In February experts warned technical details on the site were inaccurate and could give consumers the wrong impression of the cost and tax implications of the pension freedoms, which came into force on Monday.

The site said “there’ll be a charge every time you withdraw money” from flexi-access drawdown and there only “may” be a charge every time a small amount of cash is taken. 

AJ Bell technical resources consultant Lisa Webster said: “It is much more likely to be the other way around. Some providers won’t charge for ad-hoc drawdown payments, but will for UFPLS.”

However, the statement has not been changed. 

Towers Watson senior consultant David Robbins says: “Providers structure their charges in different ways and it is odd to pre-empt charges in this way. Not long after the Pension Wise site launched, Hargreaves Lansdown announced it would be charging on a percentage of funds under management basis.”

Under a section on flexi-access drawdown, the website previously said: “You can leave your pot to someone when you die but they would have to pay inheritance tax on it.”

This has now been chnaged to say “they may have to pay inheritance tax on it”. 

The site has also been criticised for a lack of prominent signposts to regulated financial advice.

Financial advice is referenced at the end of the shopping around section – the sixth and final step which the site encourages users to take.

It now includes a link to the Money Advice Service’s at-retirement adviser directory, which went live this week, but no other changes have been made to signposting to advice.

Apfa director general Chris Hannant says: “We have spoken to the Treasury about making changes to improve the prominence of signposting to advice on the Pension Wise site. They said they would take it on board but it is yet to happen.”

The Treasury says more than three quarters of a million individuals have visited the Pension Wise website since it launched. 

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Comments

There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Every single one of those topics needs a separate devoted page. It’s almost as though pensions are very complex and technical and that is why an entire industry exists to advise people through the complexity . . . .

  2. “Financial advice is referenced at the end of the shopping around section – the sixth and final step which the site encourages users to take.”

    Is it just me, or is there an air of indifference to financial advisers from MAS/Pension Wise. I get the distinct impression they wish we weren’t here at all. Which is odd as as they wouldn’t exist otherwise. From what i see, they do more harm to consumers, with their inane self advertising and inaccurate information.

  3. If this was an adviser firm they would have had a very large fine. It really is time that a comparison table was produced of regulatory and Government errors and that of financial service firms errors and outcomes.

    It seems to me everyone else can do as they want with diplomatic immunity, whilst we love in fear of our lively hoods.

  4. In ten years time those responsible will be long gone or causing havoc in another industry, with only the advisory community left to take the blame and pay the bill.

    Whilst we have the benefit of freedom of speech in the UK, what is the point if nobody listens? Half of my family lived under communism, at least you knew where you stood. Maybe preferable to a dictatorship?

  5. Get used to it everyone – the MAS/Pension Wise know far more about all this than any regulated adviser and clearly think that they can ‘guide’ the general public without the necessity of regulated advice.
    With the new R08 – ‘Pension Update’ module soon to be released – keeping advisers up to date with the pension changes (and demonstrating competency in this area) will be a great addition for many of us…….but I know who will not be taking the exams – all those involved in these ‘ivory towered’ government run websites!

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