Unbiased award winners on the advice review and tax relief reform fears


Advisers are calling on the Government to ensure the Financial Advice Market Review introduces standard industry charging, while warning a flat rate of tax relief could undermine the pension freedoms.

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to outline the Government’s plans for reforming advice and pension tax relief at the next Budget.

Plutus Wealth Management chartered financial planner and winner of Unbiased’s young financial adviser of the year award Sebastian Hurst says the Treasury’s advice review must help the public understand the cost of advice.

He says: “It’s frustrating when clients phone up and ask for access to their pension and whether we can just sign a letter. The Government needs to be really clear about how the system works.

“There needs to be a general consensus of what advice costs. We’ll give potential clients ballpark figures and often they baulk at the cost initially. We have to explain, but there should be an understanding of what you pay in the market.”

The review is set to redraw the advice market and, as Money Marketing has revealed in recent weeks, could even unpick some of the pillars of the RDR.

But Combined Financial Strategies director Jonothan McColgan says a move back to commission would be a “retrograde step”.

McColgan, who was named at retirement advier of the year, says: “The FCA is reviewing the definition of restricted advisers, commission and qualifications. So they are admitting they got two thirds of the changes brought in by the RDR wrong.

“I’d like to see a specialist regulator for advisers, so we don’t get lumped in with fund managers. At the moment the FCA doesn’t understand what we do, all the regulation is based on product sales but we’ve moved on.”

But financial adviser of the year Invest Southwest managing director David Penny thinks differently.

He says: “The FCA does a good job in very difficult changing circumstances and there will always be winners and losers. But it does bother me that we are a really good firm with low risk but we get hammered by high charges.

“It’s not just the industry that has to deal with constant change, the FCA does too. Areas like insistent clients are big, almost philosophical changes, we can’t just expect the regulator on day one to understand all that.”

McColgan also warns breaking the link between income tax and relief will damage the appeal of pensions.

“Bringing in a flat rate of relief could pave the way for further deductions. Breaking the link with your own tax band is concerning, it’s great for basic rate taxpayers who will get a boost, but this could be the starting point for a whole series of erosion.

“Over the years with all the changes, tax relief is one area that has remained constant – it could undermine the good publicity pensions has started to get.”

All the winners from last night’s Unbiased Media Awards

Financial adviser of the year

David Penny, Invest Southwest

Investment adviser of the year

Jason Hollands, Tilney Bestinvest

Pension adviser of the year

Alistair Cunningham, Wingate Financial Planning

At retirement adviser of the year

Jonothan McColgan, Combined Financial Strategies

Mortgage adviser of the year

David Hollingworth, London & Country Mortgages

Protection adviser of the year

Alan Lakey, Highclere Financial Services

Social media adviser of the year

Alistair Cunningham, Wingate Financial Planning

The Bluebook newcomer

Sebastian Hurst, Plutus Wealth Management

Young financial adviser of the year

Sebastian Hurst, Plutus Wealth Management

Value of advice ambassador

Scott Gallacher, Rowley Turton

Estate planning adviser of the year

Jonothan McColgan, Combined Financial Strategies

Tax planning adviser of the year

Patrick Connolly, Chase de Vere

Trade article of the year

Sam Brodbeck, Money Marketing