Pensions advice at extra cost.

The government has given in to pressure to allow accountants and other financial advisers acting for stakeholder pensions schemes to charge extra for individually tailored pensions advice. But Social Security secretary Alastair Darling announced in parliament this week that the 1% limit would remain for providing information and general advice and other operating costs. He also exempted employers with fewer than five staff from having to run an employee pension scheme and employers who offer a group personal pension to which they contribute at least 3% of employees’ earnings – with the exemptions to be reviewed in three years time. Darling said schemes may provide individual financial advice within the 1% limit if they wish – but would be allowed to charge a separate fee to cover additional, optional services. The Financial Services Authority will be responsible for the rules surrounding the promotion and marketing of schemes, including the provision of advice for the pensions, which the government plans to make publicly available from April next year. In a written reply to a question in the Commons, Darling said schemes would be barred from making additional charges for transfers into stakeholder pensions or to other schemes.

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