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The cost of leaving IFAs in the cold

Could Adair Turner’s Pensions Commission see yet another attempt by a Government reviewer to cut IFAs out of the pension and savings equation?

John Lawson of Standard Life is concerned that much of the private sector could be cut out.

It would appear – if a Financial Times report is to be believed – that Turner will plump for a BritSaver pension centrally administered with fund management outsourced.

This seems to follow the Swedish model and suggests little room for commission payments to advisers.

Writing in this issue, Lawson gets to grips with some of the costs of the Swedish model, noting some of the admin-istration is paid for by the issuance of bonds which means that this particular Scandinavian model is potentially more costly than some UK pensions currently on offer.

There will also be fears that savers will only invest in default funds and suffer under-performance as a result which could be crucial depending on what happens to tax and benefits.

But it does appear that advised pension sales come in more expensive.

We may be back to that old obsession with costs that brought about stakeholder pensions.

Lawson would like the retail pension industry to get together to put the case against these proposals. However, the industry must wait another week until the actual report.

First, there may be more options for change in Turner. This could be a flagged policy where politicians try out a plan in the media to check the reaction before they put their names to it.

Second, the Government reaction on something so fundamental is difficult to predict, particularly when the country appears to have a Prime Minister and a Prime Minister in waiting.

But if Turner’s recommendations do hurt IFAs and pension providers, then they had better be prepared to marshal their arguments to show why working with them rather than around them or in spite of them is in the best interests of British savers.

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