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Pensions regulator calls on advisers to get behind cold-calling ban

The Pensions Regulator has called on financial advisers to stand behind the cold-calling ban by doing more to report potential scammers.

In a blog post this morning, TPR frontline regulation director Nicola Parish calls on IFAs to show clients the FCA’s Scam Smart website to alert them to the warning signs of fraud, particularly when the are considering a pension transfer.

Parish writes: “The move by the government to make good on its pledge to make pension cold calling an offence sends a strong message to those who would target pension savers. But we need advisers to help make it as effective as possible by doing their bit.

“Most people with defined benefit pensions will have to take appropriate independent advice from an FCA-authorised adviser before transferring their benefits. Advisers may therefore be the first people to learn about a planned transfer. A clear warning from them to their customers about the dangers of suspicious-looking schemes could be enough to prevent a scam.”

Parish says that this would help financial planners “provide the best advice possible”, and is “not about increasing the workload of advisers”.

She also raises a warning over websites where pensioners go to input details so they can receive information about transferring their pension, since scammers can use these to begin approaching savers.

TPR reiterates that free pensions review, cash liberation before 55, along with high returns, time-pressured deals and exotic investments remain key signs of possible scams, but regulators and government agencies may only become involved after savers have sought help from professional advisers.

Parish writes: “While hundreds of thousands of people have visited Scam Smart for information  since we launched our awareness campaign last summer, we are often not the first people that consumers turn to for information about their pensions.

Some will turn to friends and family for advice. Some will access information via the new Single Finance Guidance Body or through Pension Wise. But a large proportion will rely on the advice and guidance of their pension scheme administrators, trustees and financial advisers.”

Targets

Money Marketing has recently heard from advice professionals who have themselves been targeted with investment opportunities that sound too good to be true.

Phil Bray, director of  consultancy The Yardstick Agency was sent an unsolicited email with details of an investment opportunity on the assumption Bray was a sophisticated investor, “despite receiving the email without requesting it,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brays says: “This email promises high returns from an unregulated investment. It wouldn’t be approved in its current format by any compliance department I know. And, while I know that fixed returns of 12% are unrealistic, other consumers, perhaps nervous after recent stock-market volatility, might be persuaded to invest.

“If ever a reminder were needed that the cold calling ban should have been extended to emails and texts this is it.”

An IFA also shared an email approach by a group offering an unregulated collective investment scheme with high returns and says:

“This is typical non-regulated crap that in a few years will go pear shaped. I’m forwarding to the FCA.”

The adviser agreed the cold calling ban should be extended to such emails.

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Of course! It’s always up to IFA’s to do more. Can we expect from the ICO any assurances that it’ll react to any reports any more swiftly and effectively than the FCA? Hardly a high hurdle to clear, I accept, but it would be nice to know to what standards the ICO aims to aspire.

  2. I would observe that any decent adviser will always steer clients clear of scams if possible.

    So the only ones likely to not do so would be the ones that are ethically challenged and are probably in on the scam.

    Good luck persuading them to change..

  3. The cold calling ban has left the door wide open for the scammers whom will totally ignore it.

    How can IFA’s report scammers as the scammers will not be targeting clients of IFAs, only those people who have not been contacted by anybody else because ‘good’ IFA’s or ‘Sales Lead’ firms are obeying the rules.

    You really couldn’t make it up. Why have I not seen any advertising from TPR or Govt educating the public to have their pensions looked at by an IFA and the ask a friend for a referral, contact the Personal Finance Society (PFS) or search the FCA website?

    I say this and I am not an IFA,

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