Unbiased Advice by MAS or not?

10th July 2012

The Money Advice Service offers “free and unbiased advice on money matters”. However, some Financial Advisers have expressed concern on the outcome of a new annuity comparison tool. Instead of providing impartial advice it links the user and takes them directly to the provider, most of whom are not impartial.

One which is of concern is Saga. It may appear to the user that Saga is independent, whereas it is actually tied to Legal and General and hence is not unbiased. The initial page says: It says: “Pension Annuity only accessible direct through the Saga Annuity Service, so if you’re using a financial adviser don’t forget to contact us directly to see if we can secure a higher income for you.
“A dedicated and experienced team provided by Legal & General who can help you through the process of buying a pension annuity.”

This is dangerous advice as the experience and expertise of a Financial Adviser can be invaluable when deciding on an Annuity provider. There are many factors to be taken into consideration such as lifestyle and marital status and although these are considered on the calculator, decisions by the annuitee could be made without the real advice from an experienced adviser which may end in a much lower income than could be obtained without the advice.

Beware of using the calculators on their own and also of letting them guide you into the suppliers websites. By all means use them to get an idea of how much you could get, but remember that advice can be invaluable.

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