Choosing and using a pensions adviser
If you're considering taking out a stakeholder or personal pension you can shop around yourself, but it can be a good idea to get financial advice from a specialist before you buy. For information on any pension offered by your employer you need to speak to your HR department.
Who can offer pensions advice?
Firms must be authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to advise on financial products such as personal pensions. This means they must follow certain rules and standards when dealing with you.
Meaning of financial advice
When you get financial advice, the financial adviser looks at your individual circumstances and needs and recommends financial products to meet them.
Personal or stakeholder pensions
A personal pension is one that you take out yourself, for example if you're self-employed or your employer doesn't offer a pension arrangement. They are a type of money purchase pension.
Stakeholder pensions have to meet minimum standards laid down by government. Some employers offer them or you can start one yourself.
Information you'll get
Before you buy, the financial adviser will usually give you a 'Key features document' that explains important details, like:
- the aims and benefits of the product
- the level of risk
- an illustration showing how the pension might work for you
- the commission and charges you will have to pay the product provider to manage the product for you
How to check whether a firm is authorised
If you want to check whether a firm you're dealing with is authorised you can use the online FSA Register or call the FSA Consumer Helpline on 0845 606 1234. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Finding and using a financial adviser
There are several ways you can find a financial adviser. You can:
- search online
- check specialist investment publications
- talk to your accountant or solicitor
- check the investment pages in major newspapers
- contact trade bodies, like IFA Promotion or the Personal Finance Society
Buying without advice
You can invest in a pension based on 'information only', after shopping around but it's important to be aware that you have fewer rights to cancel or complain if you buy an investment product without taking financial advice. Read the details in the related pages.
Advice on company pensions
A financial adviser should ask whether your employer offers a company pension scheme before suggesting a personal pension. If your company does offer a scheme it's usually a good idea to join, especially if your employer contributes. To find out more you'll need to talk to your HR department. Read 'Understanding company pensions' to find out more.