Brian Hill is an independent financial adviser based in Wiltshire. Here follows an account of his recent experience with a pensions liberation company…
I was working from homE to get a bit of focus time, and was cold-called. Now, my numbers are registered with the telephone preference service, so I shouldn't get many cold calls at all.
I was intrigued with this one because of the offer of a £1,000 cash bonus if I had a pension and was under age 60. Sounds like a freebie to me! And I'm well under 60. It's also a financial promotion, but I'll leave that for another day.
So I pressed five on my keypad, as I have a pension and I'm under the age of 60.
How one IFA dealt with a pensions liberation scheme
I then got through to a young lady - we'll call her Doris - who asked me a few questions about my pension which I was happy to supply. If Doris had asked "are you a regulated pensions specialist" I imagine the call wouldn't have gone on for very long!
She did read out a disclaimer, quickly, which indicated that her firm (I forget the name) didn't provide financial advice, and Doris then said she would get a case handler to call me back in ten minutes to discuss my pension further.
Ten minutes later another phone call interrupted my well-earned peanut butter sandwich.
This young chap - let's call him Ben - explained he was from Pension Matters, which wasn't strictly accurate. Pension Matters is a regulated Financial Services Authority (FSA) firm. Pension Matters Associates Limited, who Ben was calling from, is not. At all.
Ben wanted to get hold of my pension fund details so they could tell me if it had been under-performing or not. His independent financial adviser would advise me on this, which is strange because they don't have an IFA working for them and they're not authorised to deal with pensions. But Ben assured me that I'd get my £1,000 cash bonus that Doris had already told me and, with Christmas approaching, I'd be foolish not to say yes.
The conversation then went a little bit, or very much, like this:
Me: Who pays the £1,000 cash bonus", because there is no such thing as a free lunch, right?
Ben: Yardstick Marketing pay you the £1,000.
Me: Just for telling me if my pension is underperforming?
Ben: No, you'd have to transfer it
Me: How much would that cost?
Ben: It's free without obligation.
Me: I get £1,000 free and without obligation?
Me: So Pension Matters are going to pay you enough that you'll pay me £1,000?
Me: Which means that they will have to earn enough money from moving my pension to be able to pay you guys at Yardstick Marketing and Doris?
Me: So who pays Pension Matters Associates? I think I must do. Does this mean that the £1,000 cash bonus was mine in the first place? You're giving me back money I've just given to you?
Ben: No, it would come from your pension.
Me: So that £1,000 was in my pension?
Me: Ben, I think you'll find in pension legislation that's called an unauthorised payment Ben. Ben? Are you there?
So, if you get called by Yardstick Marketing, or Pension Matter Associates, or Doris, then my best advice for you is to avoid them. Unless you're like me and you enjoy a jolly bit of sport.
Brian Hill is managing director of Jones Hill, an IFA-based in Wiltshire.
This blog originally appeared on: www.joneshill.co.uk/yardstick-marketing-pensions-matter/
£1bn business since inception
Considered doing so in 2015
Client communication considerations
Aviva: ‘We are sorry’
FOI from Professional Adviser