Examination of Witnesses

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 21st October 2014.

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David Geale: There are a number of options within the framework of advice. People can use an execution-only route, where they seek no advice and take responsibility for the decision they make. They can also seek full advice, where someone does a proper review of their full financial circumstances and produces a set of recommendations based on that full review. In the middle, there is a range of options available to firms to focus on a particular need, where that is what the customer wants. A good example is someone saying, “I just want to use this year’s ISA allowance. I want to know where to invest. I don’t want to talk about any of my other investments.” That is a limited service. It provides people with a limited amount of advice and could ignore some very important needs but, if that is the service they want and the service they have agreed to take from the financial adviser, that is possible. Where that service is clearly defined and people can reasonably understand what they are getting and its limitations, I do not have concerns. That is a valuable thing for people in the market; it is an element of choice.

I would be more concerned if advisers narrowed that service without the customer understanding it, by just ticking a box that says, “Did not want to discuss this or that.” That is a very different service. It is about the diversity of the advice services and providing people with a range of options. A lot of people do not want to go and spend three, four or five hours with a financial adviser. They want something specific for a particular need. Some people have very simple needs and others have more complex needs. It is about choice.