Here's our weekly heads-up on the stories that may have caught your clients' attention over the weekend …
‘Why will no-one help me cash in my pension?'
A contentious subject that has been covered at length in Professional Adviser, this Telegraph article brings the final salary transfer debate into the mainstream. It informs its readers those who want to move their pension against the wishes of an adviser are called "insistent clients", and then maintains "dozens of Telegraph Money readers are being prevented from taking control of their money".
One person quoted in the piece is 65-year-old Richard Austin, who claims that after months of searching he has been unable to find a financial adviser willing to speak to him about two final salary pensions he has with a former employer. According to the article, these pensions combined would pay around £5,000 per year, but have a transfer value of £100,000.
Austin says: "For me, it's about control. If I pop my clogs tomorrow my boys will get nothing. If I can transfer it into a personal pension, at least they'll get what I leave behind. I know at the moment the income is guaranteed and I'm quite prepared to give up that guarantee to get more control. It is my money at the end of the day."
Offering a rather different point of view is 55-year-old David Rowe, who says the advisers he spoke to "weren't interested unless I let them manage my money afterwards". Providers were also asked whether or not they would perform a transfer without the advice of an adviser. Hargreaves Lansdown and Intelligent Pensions both said they would not do so but AJ Bell said it accepted transfers, irrespective of the adviser's recommendation. For their part, Prudential and Aviva said they had no way to know if an adviser had made a recommendation.
Pension scam losses hit record high in March
More on pensions in this Financial Times article, which reports that losses from pension scams reached a record high of £8m in March - shortly before the government shelved anti-fraud measures. City of London police reported 24 victims lost £8.6m at the hands of fraudsters - a big jump from the £779,000 reported lost by 12 people in February.
Since the introduction of pension freedom in April 2014, the piece notes, more than £42m has reportedly been lost to ‘pension liberation fraud'. According to the report, victims are typically conned into placing their pension funds in investments that do not exist, are illiquid or are incapable of delivering the promised returns.
Victims are often too embarrassed to admit, or too slow to realise, they have been targeted, adds the report, while Red Circle Financial Planning director Darren Cooke, who originally petitioned for the government to introduce a cold-calling ban to tackle scams, says the reported losses are likely to be only "the tip of the iceberg".
The government's response to the cold-calling ban consultation, which closed in February, was delayed last month following the announcement of the snap General Election. A government spokesperson told the FT the legislation had not been delayed but would be the responsibility of the next government.
Elderly, loyal - and charged 10 times more for insurance
This Sunday Times article tells the story of three elderly people, aged 89, 92 and 93, who were left paying "excessive" premiums after sticking with the same insurance company for years.
In each case, the article says, the individual could not or did not use a computer to compare prices and was reluctant to switch since they are a generation that feels loyalty to a company is important. Each was saved money only when a younger relative stepped in.
Consumer site Fairer Finance founder James Daley told the Sunday Times: "There's no way that insurers should be allowed to charge existing customers as much as 10 times the price they offer to new ones."
Various companies told the paper it was a customer's responsibility to compare and switch deals but, since the beginning of April, insurers have had an obligation to encourage policyholders in renewal letters to shop around if they have not switched for four years.
The Financial Conduct Authority said: "We are looking at how the financial services industry deals with older customers as part of our ageing population work and will publish more on this later this year."
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