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.”
Money Marketing has recently heard from advice professionals who have themselves been targeted with investment opportunities that sound too good to be true.
Lucky me, I can get 12% per annum and I've been deemed wealthy enough to be a Certified High Net Worth Investor (despite receiving the email without requesting it). Where do I sign? Can't believe this rubbish is still being pumped out https://t.co/qENZApkUaY pic.twitter.com/4qyJK0uvgL
— Phillip Bray (@philbray73) January 16, 2019
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.