Demystifying the technical aspects of pensions

With incessant industry change from a regulatory, legislative and technical perspective, Paul Richards, Head of Sales, reflects on how FundsNetwork offers advisory firms comprehensive technical support.

Why is providing technical support to advisers and paraplanners so important?

The whole area of retirement planning is arguably more complex than ever before. While the government has always made policy and tax reforms in this area, we’ve seen a deluge of new pension regulation over the last four years. The pension freedoms and rules on the treatment of death benefits, for example, have given clients much more flexibility in how they can plan their finances in retirement.

These changes have led to more demand for advice and so it’s vital that advice practitioners are on top of all the intricacies that go hand-in-hand with the reforms. Our contemporary low-cost pension gives clients access to all the new freedoms along with great investment choice. We therefore feel it’s very important to offer comprehensive technical support in this space, drawing upon the considerable expertise and experience of our pensions team.

Which types of adviser can benefit from our technical support?

Our aim is to assist all advisers and paraplanners, no matter how experienced or new to the industry they may be. For example, we offer a broad range of materials designed to help anyone studying for CII exams or who simply wants to boost their pension knowledge. However, we also recognise that even the most knowledgeable individuals occasionally need guidance on the more complex areas of pension legislation. Pensions and divorce, for instance, is an area where we are frequently asked to clarify the rules. Indeed, given the appetite for this information, we’ve produced an in-depth guide on this subject which is available on our 'Technical matters' hub.

Where are we seeing demand for insight?

Undoubtedly the hot topic has been defined benefit transfers, specifically the rules regarding death benefits as they affect defined benefit and money purchase schemes. As a result, we’ve produced detailed factsheets covering both types of scheme. The taxation of pension withdrawals and the tapered annual allowance for individuals with adjusted income of over £150,000 are other areas currently at the top of the list. Again, materials on these subjects are available on our 'Technical matters' hub.

Do you help advisers explain the technical aspects of pensions to clients?

Yes, in order to save advisers time and money, we’ve produced a number of helpful client-facing guides that they can use in meetings and other communications. Written in user-friendly language, these downloadable guides cover topics such as pension tax relief, the ‘carry forward’ rules, income drawdown, annuities, the annual allowance, the tapered annual allowance and the lifetime allowance.

Can you tell us more about the support for individuals studying for pension exams?

Our 'Technical matters' hub currently hosts 46 videos designed to help anyone studying for CII exams. Each video covers learning outcomes for the latest exam syllabuses. They feature Neil Dickey, one of the UK's most qualified and respected names in financial planning. A fellow of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) and a Chartered Financial Planner, Neil started his career as an adviser and has also worked as a paraplanner and more recently as a freelance technical author and trainer.

In which ways can advisers access this support?

Our support is available in a range of ways. Firstly, it’s really important to hear first hand the issues advisers and paraplanners are facing today. Paul Squirrell, our National Pensions Sales Manager, and Paul Kennedy, Head of Tax and Trust Planning, are constantly travelling around the country presenting conferences and talking to firms.

We've also been putting a lot of work into our website over the past couple of years and, as I have already alluded to, there really is a wealth of good quality information to be found The developments have come from listening to advisers and paraplanners and we have a large array of materials available, ranging from informative factsheets through to video explanations of some of the more technical aspects of financial services.

'Technical matters' hub

We’re committed to providing you with technical support to help you keep pace with the latest rules and legislation. Our range of practitioner material is designed to help you keep on top of all aspects of retirement planning. Themes covered include death benefits, pensions and divorce, the State Pension, pension withdrawals taxation and much more.

Take a look