As we prepare to leave 2008 behind us it's worth taking a look back at some of the happenings of this eventful year. We've seen investment markets crash and some of our biggest and best known financial services companies have been rocked to their very foundations. Investors have had their confidence shaken and pensions pots have plummeted. Advisers will have their work cut out to persuade many people to return to the markets at any point soon and it will take time for people's savings levels to recover.
We are also getting to grips with the FSA's thematic review into pension transfers which indicated that up to 16% of cases involved unsuitable advice and in some cases people had actually lost out on benefits as a result.
However, valuable lessons have also been learnt and advisers and their clients are looking ever more closely at what they are investing in. No doubt the industry will enter the New Year not only a little bit older but a whole lot wiser too.
While 2008 has brought plenty of room for concern there was also great room for optimism. We've seen renewed emphasis on the open market option (OMO) with the FSA taking some providers to task over the standard of their literature. It is to be hoped that going forward improved literature will encourage more people to take advantage of the open market and they could get an uplift in income as a result. We have also seen much anticipated growth in the enhanced annuity market which again puts many more people in line for an increased income in retirement.
The massive growth of SIPPs looks set to continue especially now that investors can invest their protected rights money within a SIPP structure. However, whether this growth in business for SIPPs will be at the cost of the SSAS market remains to be seen.
More recently again the industry has welcomed the Retail Distribution Review which promises to usher in a whole new era for how adviser businesses are run.
All of these issues will accompany us into 2009 and the retirement industry will evolve and grow as a result. As long as we learn the lessons of the past year we can look forward to offering an ever improving service to the consumer and offer them products that are well targeted to their needs.
All that is now left for me to say is to wish all Retirement Planner readers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year and thank you for all your support.
Also unveils trust IPO raised £100m
Paul Bruns and Elaine Parkes
3,000 left to transfer
Record numbers of people aged 90 plus