Opra is refusing to offer access to independent financial advice through its website because it believes IFAs will sting vulnerable small businesses with “unnecessary fees” for stakeholder advice.
IFA Promotion wants Opra to rethink its position and include an Ifap link but Opra is determined to send out the Treasury-style message that stakeholder does not require advice. Ifap chief executive David Elms says, after lobbying, the DSS recently added an Ifap link to its site but Opra remains adamant it will bias its site towards direct sales by only giving contact details of product providers.
The refusal has created a nightmare for IFA-only providers which have had to turn away employers keen to set up stakeholder schemes.
Opra communications manager Nick Edmans says: “We have a concern for small employers with small turnover having unnecessary expense by going through an IFA. The last thing we want is for Joe's Heel Bar with five employers to assume he has to pay over 1 per cent for fees.”
Elms says: “Opra told us it did not want to create the impression all employers should use IFAs to set up stakeholder. The DSS has conceded on offering access to IFAs, so it makes no sense for Opra to deny access to independent advice.”
Aifa director-general Paul Smee says: “What message are they sending? Going direct still means getting advice. Why are they so convinced that Joe doesn't need advice? They are doing the site's users a disservice by not offering access to independent advice.”
Scottish Life head of communications Alasdair Buchanan says: “We have had a number of calls from employers on the back of the Opra website and it is causing problems. Given that 80 per cent of corporate pension business comes through IFAs, it seems ridiculous there is no link to IFAs on the site.”