New financial guidance body must report on outcomes to be effective

20th February 2017

Responding to the Government’s consultation on a new single financial guidance body, LV= says that the new body should be required to report on the consumer outcomes of guidance, as well as the number of people it refers to regulated financial advice at retirement.  This should ensure consumers are being supported to make the right decisions.

This call follows research from LV= which found that just one in ten (12%) over 55s who aren’t yet retired are planning to use the Government’s free guidance service, Pension Wise, while nearly four in ten (37%) have never even heard of it. A similar percentage (41%) say they don’t plan to take regulated advice when they retire.

Mark Sands, Chair of the Personal Insolvency Committee of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body, said: “The creation of a new single advice body is welcome, and we’re pleased to see that the provision of readily available debt advice remains a government priority. “It’s important that, when setting up the new body, the government does not just look at advice, but at how indebted individuals sort out their situation, including considering the stigma associated with debt and insolvency.

“It is also crucial that the new body works closely with existing debt advice stakeholders, including R3 and the insolvency profession, to break down barriers that stop indebted individuals from getting the advice they need and dealing with their debts in an appropriate manner. A greater understanding of the ‘journey’ an indebted individual goes on through the debt landscape would help identify barriers and establish solutions that will ensure a better long-term outcome for those in financial difficulty.”

Philip Brown, Head of Policy at LV=, said: “We fully support the creation of a new single financial guidance body and believe this is a golden opportunity to tackle the issue of people retiring without support. There are many positive aspects of existing guidance services which should be retained, for example the Money Advice Service comparison tables and The Pensions Advisory Service’s dispute resolution service, but the new body’s remit could be expanded to help even more consumers. Requiring the body to focus on achieving quality outcomes from guidance, and report on the number of referrals to regulated advice, should ensure consumers have the help they need to make important financial decisions. Consumers genuinely value Government-backed guidance, particularly at key events such as retirement, and we expect the new body to provide the high quality, impartial guidance that UK individuals need.”