Concerns raised over Citizens Advice/PFS pro-bono tie-up


Concerns have been raised that people using Citizens Advice and the Personal Finance Society’s pro-bono initiative could be missing out on expert advice if they have a defined contribution pension.

MoneyPlan is a holistic financial planning service delivered by PFS members that falls short of full regulated advice.

A note sent to MoneyPlan advisers, seen by Money Marketing, explains that clients with DC pensions must do “an onward referral” to Pension Wise.

It adds: “Clients with defined benefit pensions are not eligible under Pension Wise and can seek advice from the financial adviser.”

Pension Wise has struggled to attract savers to appointments and is set to slash the number of guidance staff by a third.

A MoneyPlan adviser, who wishes to remain anonymous, says: “Citizens Advice refusing to allow clients to have advice on their defined contribution scheme means some of the most vulnerable in society will lose out.

“I do not understand why they will allow us to give advice to DB clients, who normally have the best pensions by far, but will ban those who have far worse pensions.”

PFS chief executive Keith Richards says the service has a broader remit than Pension Wise but is not advice.

He says: “MoneyPlan will take a lot more into consideration than Pension Wise because it is broader and it is more holistic financial planning considerations that will be discussed. It is generally more around the options people should be considering, rather than solutions and recommendations.

“It’s really important Pension Wise and MoneyPlan complement each other rather than compete.

“There will always be the occasion where something may have worked better going in a different way but we are very happy with how things are progressing. We are soon to move into a new phase with MoneyPlan rolled out at more bureaux.”

A Citizens Advice spokeswoman says: “MoneyPlan offers people a free taster session of generic financial advice and is a service which complements Pension Wise. Anyone with a DC pension is entitled to access both Pension Wise guidance and a MoneyPlan session.”

Currently 179 PFS members volunteer across 98 Citizens Advice centres.