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TPAS and MAS hold industry talks on pensions quality kitemark

The Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service are in talks with the pensions industry about launching a steering group to develop a quality mark for advisers and retirement brokers, Money Marketing understands.

Annuity Direct chairman Alan Higham, who has been involved in the discussions, says an announcement will be made “shortly”. 

He says: “People need reliable expert help at retirement but at the moment the quality of services available is very patchy. The idea of a simple, national quality kitemark for at-retirement expert help is an appealing one to a whole range of organisations.

“We need to find a body to do the accreditation and monitoring of the advisers and we need to set out the detail of the quality standards. We are slowly building a consensus on how that should be done.”

TPAS was unavailable for comment while MAS said talks were at an early stage.

Separately, the Association of British Insurers has confirmed its members will point savers to Pica’s directory of intermediaries following a revamp of the trade body’s retirement choices code of conduct.

The Pick-A directory, launched in November last year, is designed to help consumers to find an annuity broker.

An ABI spokeswoman says: “We are going to evaluate and review the code in the spring. We expect to make changes, including adding pick-a.org to the list of useful resources in the code.”

It remains unclear whether TPAS or the MAS will promote the Pick-A directory on their websites.

Money Marketing understands that the MAS has raised a number of issues with Pica, including that several advisers listed on the directory appear to be offering advice at indicative costs of zero.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “It is excellent the ABI is going to recognise the Pick-A directory in its revised code and we will continue to work with other stake–holders to further drive up quality standards.”

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Comments

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

  1. Derek Bradley ceo Panacea Adviser 14th March 2014 at 8:44 am

    This is a job for the FCA.

    The FSA’s head of consumer affairs Chris Pond saidt “product pre-approval would have proved problematic” and that ‘we have stepped away from the idea of saying we will approve products in advance because we do not have the resources to do that and then there are problems with people saying this product is fine”.

    Over a considerable number of years ‘Consumer detriment’ has been seen because the regulator has noted flaws in product design, marketing or understanding of outcome and purpose- and yes you have guessed it, all with the benefit of hindsight.

    Regulation should be about being smart and not wise after the event. It should be about utilising experience when things going wrong to make sure mistakes and failures do not happen twice.

    Those ‘Manufacturers’ of product are in business to make a profit and that profit, as Paul Barnard observed, “can be made quite ethically and honestly”, but he has an “overwhelming feeling that our regulator just doesn’t understand the markets it purports to regulate”.

    To licence a product as fit for purpose, with that purpose clearly defined, as part of the process is the single most effective consumer benefit a regulator could put in place.

    It is the CAA equivalent of being fit to fly, it is the Food Standards Agency equivalent of safe to eat, it is the VOSA equivalent of saying your car is safe to drive.

    The regulatory decision is nothing to do with resource, it is to do with responsibility and who the finger points at when things go wrong. We should remember that as Sants pointed out at the TSC hearings if responsibility fell upon the shoulders of those at the FSA, nobody would want to do the job.

    A regulator cannot rely on someone else to do the job, and then get him or her to take the blame when it all ends in tears because they did not have the “resource” to do what was right.

    Some have suggested that the resource needed would result in a huge increase in fees, perhaps the contra view that because products are licenced there would be fewer failures to fund might be more appropriate.

    In any event, the FSA and FCA has never found it difficult to raise money to fund its activities in the past, in fact it just goes to the very banks it regulates to raise the money then bills those it regulates to pay it back.

    I am sure that this will generate a lot of debate, perhaps the justification should read “through being inefficient, incompetent and frightened to take any responsibility whatsoever for the consequences of our own actions we are not going to effect product pre-approval” and so are handing back the keys of responsibility to you.

  2. This is not TPAS or MAS jurisdiction. They haven’t the proven expertise or the remit.

    Reflects very poorly on their approach to strategic project governance

  3. This is something which has been regulated by FSA/FCA for 14 years. It is the clear remit of the FCA and nobody else. The Pensions Regulator is an ineffectual quango tasked with adherence to codes and legislation for pension schemes. MAS is a joke organisation tasked with providing guidance to the financially illiterate.

    If the FCA is admitting it is not fit for purpose on this aspect of its job the I would like the return of 14 years regulatory fees plus interest.

  4. The suggestion of a kitemark is a good idea. There is frustration with the lack of clarity and speed of the response from the FCA around the annuity market. Likewise the ABI appears to be saying the right things but the evidence of action from its members seems to have made little difference so far. Again there seems to be a bit of a gap between the intention of the PICA directory and the implementation muddle as many see it. TPAS is well respected, MAS should (note the use of that word) have the clout to influence some behaviors of how the public plan their retirement. So how about coming together with a single voice….FCA, ABI, PICA, TPAS, MAS and those from the providers and distributors who want to air their voices around innovation for the best ways to get the retirement deal that is the right one for the individual?

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