The Pensions Advisory Service says those giving pensions guidance should have to meet minimum qualifications standards.
The FCA’s consultation on guidance says the independent organisations delivering the service “must ensure that all those who deliver the guidance over the phone and face-to-face are competent and have sufficient knowledge and expertise to deliver it”.
Speaking at a Prudential panel debate in London today, TPAS chief executive Michelle Cracknell said qualified advisers will be vital for guidance to be a success.
She said: “The key requirements for delivery should be that it is qualified pensions people who are used to doing guidance, and that this isn’t just a side job. Einstein said: ’If you can’t explain it simply then you don’t understand it well enough’, so I do think it needs to be delivered by pension specialists.”
TPAS advisers are currently required to have 10 years experience in pensions and a qualification. Two thirds of the organisation’s advisers have qualifications from the Pensions Management Institute and a third from the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Cracknell added: “For the at-retirement service we think it is going to be similar, we can probably do less years because at the moment on the helpline you get completely random questions on anything from voluntary national insurance contributions through to provisions of pensions on divorce.
“On the at-retirement team it will be a narrower set of questions so we will probably consider people with a minimum of five years experience and qualifications to demonstrate that.”
In July, Labour peer Lord Kennedy wrote to the FCA asking what qualifications those delivering guidance will be required to hold, describing the lack of them in current proposals as a “very worrying state of affairs”.