SJP's sales tactics; £28bn grabbed by pensioners 'early'; and 'unfair' state pensions credit forms - here's our weekly heads-up on the financial stories that may have caught your clients' attention over the weekend …
Secret dossier leaks St James's Place sales tactics
St James's Place (SJP) advisers are encouraged to play down the impact that charges can have on returns to investors, The Sunday Times alleges in this article.
A document leaked to the Sunday ‘paper, alleged to be an SJP sales dossier, reveals an illustrated guide that shows how fees should be presented to the advice giant's clients.
In nine graphics, advisers are shown how they should explain costs to the client as a single charge. Another two illustrations represent how the fees appear to just be a small piece of the overall investment. The guide also sets out a price comparison that shows SJP fees to be below average in the market.
A second document, called the St James's Place Partnership Handbook, sets out the "commission", as the Sunday Times puts it, and charges that can be made by sales staff at the firm. It reveals how advisers face the threat of paying interest on the money they earn if they fail to draw in enough customer cash every year.
In response, SJP denies underplaying the impact of its charges. It tells The Sunday Times: "As is normal in any business trading relationship, our partner businesses have an account with St James's Place which provides a reconciliation of income and outgoings . . . Our monitoring and supervision processes take account of the financial position of partner practices to support the delivery of the right client outcomes."
Over-55s are burning £28bn by grabbing cash early from their pensions
Half of those accessing their pension pots are still at work, according to research Zurich.
The article, which features in The Mail on Sunday, says more than 300,000 people are making regular withdrawals from a pension despite being in employment. Recent HM Revenue & Customs data shows 336,000 savers withdrew a record £2.75bn from their pensions between March and June.
Zurich head of retail platform strategy Alistair Wilson says: "Savers taking a pension income they don't yet need are in danger of leaving a black hole in their finances when they eventually retire."
Janette Weir from research group Ignition House adds: "People know they can take 25 per cent of their pension tax free and so are withdrawing this amount. Many just don't need the money. There is also an issue of not trusting pensions, so they take money out and stick it in a savings account that they do trust."
State pension 'very unfair' - Pensions expert on credits form
In order to claim the new state pension, an individual is required to have a minimum of 10 qualifying years on their national insurance record but, according to LEBC director of public policy Kay Ingram, some parents could be missing out for all the wrong reasons.
In this Daily Express article, the advice network policy boss highlights the fact some people waive payment of child benefits and consequently - but not fairly - miss out national insurance credits they are entitled to. This is because one can take time out of paid work to care for a young child but still gain national insurance credits.
"Bizarrely," she bemoans, "the process for claiming the state pension credit is to fill out form CH2, which is the form for claiming child benefit.
"In response to this change many couples have waived payment of child benefit but in doing so miss out on the credits for state pension, which the stay at home parent is entitled to."
Our weekly heads-up for advisers
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) declared 11 adviser firms in default between 1 August and 31 October.