Steve Bee slams “out of date” Webb over small firm advice claims

Steve Bee has hit out at pensions minister Steve Webb for saying it his goal to make it unnecessary for small firms and low earners to seek advice over auto-enrolment.

Giving evidence to the work and pensions select committee yesterday, Webb said it would be “crazy” if most firms had to seek out expensive financial advice and that the similarity between vanilla products would mean advice was not needed. 

Paradigm senior consultant Steve Bee is behind a business which helps firms navigate auto-enrolment. He says choosing the right product is only a small part of what IFAs could help small firms with. He says while large firms have human resource departments to comply with auto-enrolment regulations, like keeping records on who is enrolled, who is not and why, small firms do not.

He says: “I sort of agree with Webb you need a scheme of a certain standard but that is only the start of it. To say IFAs have no place in helping employers comply with complex pensions regulations is nonsense, to say they only have a role in advising about products is out of date, it is only 2 per cent of it. The rest is compliance.”

Webb told the committee: “If what people are providing is a fairly standard product at a low charge I do not want firms to be agonising about whether  they go with firm A or firm B because it will be a simple product. I almost want to say I do not want most firms to have to seek out a lot of expensive advice.”