Free financial advice- good for soon-to-be pensioners?
Back in the good old days, getting financial advice was easy. You could sit down with a nice young man who would sort out all your money issues, and any fee would be covered by the commission he earned advising you where to stick your cash.
However, the Governments RDR exercise found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, some unscrupulous advisers were allowing the amount of commission they could earn to affect their advice. Also, many advisers were getting 'trail commission'- whereby they were paid an annual sum (from the fees deducted from your investment product) despite not actually doing any extra work. As a result, advisers now have to charge a fee for advice, so all the charges are upfront, and you know exactly what you are paying.
And while we always knew- deep down- that the advice was never free, for many people, being able to pay for advice piecemeal was preferable to having to fork out for advice in a lump sum. This point is particularly acute at the moment, with thousand of people with smaller pension pots unsure of what to do once the new rules about cashing in your pension come into effect.
In what is a blatant PR stunt, Unbiased financial advisers are going to offer free 30-minute sessions on pension arrangements, mortgages, investments and general financial health. The government is offering free guidance sessions to help consumers navigate the retirement landscape, but Unbiased think many people would benefit from proper tailored advice over generic guidance.
The sessions will take the form of straightforward reviews of people's financial situations, followed by adviser feedback on what their next steps should be. They will not offer full fact finds or provide 'output' documents. such as those planned for the government's free retirement guidance sessions.
Unbiased CEO Karen Barrett said: "At Unbiased we have worked hard over the past decade to get people to understand advice is not free. But we have to move with the time. Consumers these days expect offers and discounts, so we are trying to get into that theme.
Even if it's only a short session, the free advice might be of use to those unsure of what they should do come April, or for those just looking for a bit of extra direction. And it's free.