Helen Morrissey talks to Steve Lewis about the launch of The Retirement Partnership
Tell me about The Retirement Partnership?
The Retirement Partnership is what I would call a middle market organisation. We will be working with IFAs on their business propositions as well as working with the product providers. Someone has actually called us the 'go betweens' and as we are in touch with so many advisers it really helps when we then come to work with the life offices and vice versa. Our experience means we can get involved with everything from product design and building to working with sales forces so that they can demonstrate where their product might fit in to an adviser's business and add value.
I have always worked in the broader retirement market, helping IFAs to develop their business propositions and I've had the concept for The Retirement Partnership in my head for years. The most up to date job I've done is to help IFAs offer great solutions to their clients while also making a decent amount of money for themselves. I truly believe that the retirement market is currently the strongest market for advisers to get into. It is good for the client, IFA and also the product provider.
Earlier this year I wrote concept papers and spoke to various partners and I had really strong supportive feedback with three partners saying they were willing to support us. They are The Hartford, Living Time and Lincoln.
At the moment we have three directors, myself, Paul Fife and Billy Burrows. In addition we have three management consultants working with us and we have also built up a strong network of professionals who can help us to bring the right people into situations as and when needed.
Why did you decide to start up The Retirement Partnership?
After all my years in the market if ever there was a time that pensions were becoming exciting, now is that time. There has been so much change and innovation. Advisers need to know what is in the market and how they can distinguish between the different propositions to give the best advice to their clients. From the provider perspective they need to know how to position themselves properly and understand all of this new activity in the market to develop products that meet people's needs - it's very dynamic.
What kind of feedback have you received?
I have been genuinely pleased with the reception The Retirement Partnership has had. The concept has been well received. We aren't dictating to people how they should work and people appreciate that - we are merely providing guidance as to how they might approach a situation. The model we've put forward is simple yet innovative and opens the adviser's mind to different opportunities that they can discuss with their clients. It is all about having an impact on people's business and how they do it. Any model at the end of the day is only two dimensional but it comes to life when you apply it to a business and you can see it work in practice.
How would you like to see The Retirement Partnership develop over the next year or so?
To an extent you just have to follow the market and see where it takes you. We believe that everyone deserves a secure retirement and we will continue to support that. I'm a huge advocate of the UK IFA and so I will work as much as possible with them to maintain their awareness of the changes that could affect them. We hope to make the website the principal point of reference but looking ahead I would love to develop some kind of adviser accreditation process to help the general public to identify who the best advisers in this field are. That is a key point for us to develop going forward.
What do you see as your main challenges going forward?
The main challenges we face right now relate to the normal pressures of business. We are a young enterprise and there is so much opportunity available to us. We need time to consider all our bases to ensure we deliver a real quality service going forward.
As for the accreditation I can see us launching stage one of this in Q4 of this year. I would expect this to be an accredited training programme maybe two or three days in length and we are currently looking at the different media available to deliver this. We are looking for an external accreditation body right now and I hope the formal programme will be launched in Q2 next year. The accreditation needs to go alongside qualifications. It's not just about exams; advisers need the skills to go alongside it. The courses offered in the Later Life Adviser Accreditation are a good example of this.
How can advisers and providers interested in working with The Retirement Partnership get in contact?
The best way for advisers to contact us is through the website www.retirement-partnership.co.uk/
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