The Money Advice Service has backtracked on requirements for advisers to be included in its retirement adviser directory.
In June, the MAS proposed that advice firms would have to show they specialise in retirement advice and agree to take on clients no matter how small their pension pots.
The MAS has published its final criteria for the directory today after consultation with an independent panel made up of consumer and industry representatives.
The MAS says advisers must “have the ability” to provide advice in either the at-retirement or post-retirement market.
It says this is not the same as specialising in retirement advice, and that firms will be asked to self-certify that they have advisers who currently provide advice on retirement planning.
The MAS has also removed the requirement for firms to accept clients of any pot size.
However, it will require all firms listed in the directory to offer a no obligation, free initial meeting for clients.
Independent and restricted advisers will be accepted onto the directory, but restricted firms will be asked to confirm that their advisers will consider all available providers within the market they have chosen to focus on.
Information on firms’ fees will not be included in the directory when it launches in April. The MAS says to include this information requires more work, which it plans to continue following the directory’s launch.
Initially, the directory will provide generic information on adviser charging methods and give examples of fees charged for certain transactions and advice.
The MAS says: “Through a filtering process every effort will be made to match customers with firms that are able to provide them with the service they need. For instance, those with small pension pots will be matched to firms who have indicated they will deal with clients of any wealth limit.”
Apfa director general Chris Hannant says: “If the directory is going to add value, it needs to do more than existing directories. It can do this by more closely matching client to adviser.
“To do this, it will need as broad a cross-section of the market possible and so it will be important the criteria for entry are not drawn too tightly. It must allow advisers to indicate the clients they are able to serve, so that users can select an adviser based on their preferences and needs simply and efficiently.
“Professional financial advice will have a significant role to play under the new retirement rules, so it is vital that MAS gets this right. We will be discussing this further with our members and will remain in close dialogue with MAS as April 2015 draws closer.”