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Good News for Pension Savers as Ministers Crackdown on ‘Rip-off’ FeesCreated by Arabela in Retirement and pensions
In a recent move to raise credibility for pension savings and to ensure savers are getting a good value for their money, ministers are making moves to stop pension companies from levying charges such as hidden fees or “consultancy charges” on members of their scheme.
Fees Could Decimate Pots
This is done as after last year’s outrage over high fees, and to make sure that the millions of people who will start saving into a workplace pension (due to auto-enrolment) get a good deal. Pensions minister Steve Webb explains that it is about giving savers confidence and making sure they are getting a good value for their money.
Mr Webb explains that as millions of people will start saving for the first time in their life, it is important to give them confidence that their money is well taken care of and that they know which charges they will have to pay. He says that is also why they now chose to ban companies from charging consultancy fees automatically on members, as they end up paying for their employer to get advice, not themselves.
Dr Ros Altmann, a former pensions adviser to the government, praises the move to ban consultancy fees. She says that they were a huge scandal in the making, and that it is entirely right for them to go. Others who raised voices in agreement are Adam Phillips, chairman of the Consumer Panel, and head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown Tom McPhail. Mr McPhail also said these reforms would help pensions regain their image, and would lessen peoples’ fear of getting ripped off.
Further Action May Be Necessary
An alternative to saving into a traditional pension is to save into a stocks and shares ISA instead, though these tax-free accounts can also be used to supplement your current pension savings. ISAs, offered by providers like Shepherd’s Friendly, are less complicated and restrictive than traditional pension savings, which don’t let you access the money before age 55. ISAs, both cash and stocks and shares, are also a good option for shorter term savings, as opposed to the long-term nature of pension savings.
Of course, the government are not done yet, and the last word is not said regarding pension schemes. In January, an investigation was launched by the Office for Fair Trading, looking into pension schemes and their fees to make sure the industry is working in the interest of the savers. Ministers say they are awaiting the result of the investigation, and are prepared to take further action if necessary to protect the interest of savers.