Two-thirds of advisers fear a growth in pension scams, according to research from Momentum Pensions, which itself identified transparency and governance as key to minimising concerns.
The pension and SIPP provider's head of sales John McCreadie urged the whole financial services sector to stick together in its battle against pension scams. "The industry cannot simply roll over and accept these concerns - we must act collectively to build defences against the scammers," he said.
McCreadie added that part of a strong defence was to have governance throughout the entire process of both providing and advising on pensions products. "The industry needs to look at pension transfers from entry to exit point," he explained. "It's incumbent on us all not to pass the buck on governance but rather to be proactive with due diligence."
On transparency, a third (34%) of the 107 specialist retirement advisers surveyed online by Momentum in January said they had clients who had been hit by charges they had not anticipated from self-invested personal pension (SIPP) providers. Last year, the great majority of advisers (94%) backed action to enforce a standard charging structure, earlier research from Momentum found.
McCreadie said some pricing models can be pages long, which advisers do not have the time to read and understand properly. Some of these can include ad hoc advice and valuation charges, as well as time-based charging, he said, adding: "The problem with time-based charging is there's so much room for variation - it's like asking 'how long is piece of string?'"
He added: "A strictly regulated industry, populated by providers with strong corporate governance structures and transparent and simple charging fees will go a long way to ensuring scammers have a much tougher job on their hands."
Momentum's findings come as the government and industry regulators have stepped up their fight against scamming. The Treasury outlined its plan for a cold-calling ban in the 2016 Autumn Statement, extending powers to providers to block suspicious transfers.
In January, Zurich and The Pensions Advisory Service launched a helpline offering savers guidance on spotting and protecting themselves against scammers. "That proposal is a welcome development," said McCreadie. "But we need to act decisively to nip the issues in the bud before they have a chance to develop."
SIPPs came under scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority last month as it warned increasingly sophisticated scammers were using DFMs to further obscure unregulated investments through the vehicle.
In contrast, The Pensions Regulator executive director Andrew Warwick-Thompson argued SIPPs were the safer vehicle, and called for transfers to small self-administered schemes to be banned, because exemptions from regulations that apply to larger schemes make them the "vehicle of choice" for scammers.
Our weekly heads-up for advisers
'Pleased Unbiased has clarified'
The chairman isn’t answering his email
Reforms not enough
An economic cocktail