Financial advisers are lying about holding qualifications to retirement savers who are paying them for pension advice.
Consumer watchdogs made the discovery after trawling through lists of advisers claiming to hold credentials issued by professional bodies on the government-backed Money Advice Service web site.
Some are charging £3,000 or more to offer professional advice about transferring to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and other retirement investments.
Financial advisers should hold one of several certifications if they give pension advice.
Half the financial advisers who said they held qualifications issued by the Later Life Academy, ISO22222 or who were certified were not recognised on official lists, while a third falsely stated they had accreditation from the Society of Later Life Advisers.
Web site listings pulled
As a result of complaints arising from the investigation, the Money Advice Service removed all ISO22222 adviser details from their web site.
The Consumers’ Association revealed similar results during a similar investigation into false claims about qualification made by financial advisers on the independent Unbiased web site earlier in 2016.
Then, half of financial advisers were found to have lied about their qualifications to give pensions advice.
Only 11% of financial advisers purporting to be chartered were telling the truth.
“When we asked the providers about our findings, they told us that in some cases qualifications had lapsed. Others advisers were said to be in the process of attaining the qualification but had not yet completed the requirements,” said a spokesman for the Consumers’ Association.
“The Money Advice Service informed us it had been in the process of carrying out an audit of adviser details.
Check out pension credentials
“It said that the discrepancies it had discovered so far were apparently due to technical or administrative errors – and that it had not found evidence of firms deliberately falsifying information.”
The revelations show the importance of checking adviser qualifications with the bodies issuing the accreditation.
Taking statements made online or in business brochures could mean the adviser is not regulated or qualified to give best pension advice – and if a consumer loses money as a result, they are unlikely to be protected by financial compensation laws.
Advisers are also unlikely to have professional indemnity insurance that would pay out in the event of a successful complaint.
Expats looking for QROPS advice should always check out the adviser’s credentials with the body issuing the qualification as few IFAs are likely to have the skills and experience to offer professional advice.