The “advice gap” can and will be filled



You can only pay a compliment to someone who respects you . Because you can only accept a compliment if you trust the person paying it and respect their judgement.

So I’d like to thank Dr Debbie Harrison for paying me and a compliment last night at the NAPF’s PensionsConnection event.

The good Doctor was speaking in her capacity as Member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel but you may know her as a campaigning journalist or as a visiting Fellow at Cass Business School.


The compliment?

Speaking on the DWP review of consultancy charge which we expected in April but will now be delivered in May, Debbie spoke of the potential “advice gap” left by commission based employers withdrawing from the market and smaller employers not being able to pay the four or five figure fees of the traditional pension consultancies.

But Debbie was sanguine, she saw new services filling the advice gap . This is what she had in mind…

  • Good quality web-based systems run by actuarial consultants to help employees select the best scheme for the employer./employee profile
  • Low one-off cost (c £500) with certificate from actuarial firm for audit trail in relation to employer decision.
  • Almost certain that several major life offices will support the type of service in order to compete in the new “direct to employer” market established by NEST and its competitors.

I sat there, the proudest man in the room and when she mentioned that this service was about to be offered by me, I felt like a 16 year old kid who has just won through on the X-factor.

We can pretend all we like that we aren’t affected by compliments and that we are cold hard-hearted businessmen; but when someone sticks their neck out like Debbie did for me last night, you can get a lump in your throat.

For what it’s worth, I do think there is an advice gap and I do think that there is a direct to employer market for NEST and others. I think that employers will pay to have their decisions certified and presented back to them with a full audit trail and I think the amount they should pay is £500. I think employers are capable of taking difficult decisions on what is right for them and their employee profile and I think that actuaries are well-placed to martial the information and organise it to help those decision to be made.

In short, I believe Debbie is right, I have put my and my friends money where her mouth is and we will be launching to the market next week. The full functionality she is talking of is being built and should be ready by July.

It is often hard to accept compliments because you do not trust their source or respect the judgement of the person paying the compliment. But on this occasion it was very easy.

Thanks Debbie!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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