Pension freedoms demand may see closing of our open-door policy
Phil Stevenson, director, Ark Independent Financial Advisers, tells ABR the company will introduce a minimum assets level to cope with the rising number of enquiries driven by the new pension freedoms
ABR: How will Ark capitalise on the incoming pension rules?
Phil Stevenson: The new pension rules are a fantastic opportunity for both consumers and advisers. The general public view it as a positive move, and as a result there is a much better feeling now surrounding pensions than ever before. Conversations that we have with both existing and prospective clients are much more energised; there’s a greater excitement about what people can do with their money.
We have noticed a growing interest in defined benefit transfers which is great news for us, and we expect this to be an important area for us once the changes come into force, driven largely by bigger pension pots.
We have also seen new clients come on as a result of the incoming rules, which has been fantastic for us and we expect this to continue going forward.
ABR: How might this affect your client bank?
PS: We are very lucky in that we receive a great deal of enquiries through our website and referrals from existing clients so we haven’t had to push for new business. The growing public awareness and media interest has also been a great helping hand in pushing financial advice to the forefront.
However, while Ark has always operated an open-door policy that is going to have to change. These new rules have already and will continue to lead to increased interest from consumers and we have to be careful that we manage our business so as to offer our clients the very best advice. We are advisers, not facilitators and although we want to help, we simply cannot be a port of call for everyone seeking advice. As a result, going forwards, we would be reluctant to deal with clients with assets of less than £50,000 as it would not make financial sense.
ABR: How have you approached the changes with existing clients?
PS: We have been thorough in raising and explaining the changes to our existing clients. Our annual reviews have been a great way of sitting down with clients and explaining the rule changes to them, addressing any questions they may have.
In addition, we felt it was important to email our clients so they had knowledge they could take away with them and read. We normally send out a quarterly newsletter, but we have issued two mailshots over and above our normal quota, focusing solely on these changes. We want to make sure our clients are up to speed and understand who is eligible for what. The feedback we receive from our clients is always very good as they trust us to provide the right information.
The new rules will undoubtedly change the pensions landscape for the better, but it is our duty to ensure our clients don’t blow their entire pot!