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Skipton offers free retirement advice

Samantha Partington
Written By:
Samantha Partington

Skipton has launched a free retirement advice service aimed at £20k plus investors following George Osborne’s Budget announcement that all retirees should be offered free guidance.

The typical retiree which the Skipton is targeting is the modest investor with sums of around £20,000 and upwards to invest.

The initial retirement review, which covers the consumers plans for the future and how they want to achieve them, is free of charge for all customers regardless of their existing ties to the building society.

Every branch will be staffed with a retirement expert and an adviser from Skipton Financial Services (SFS). Following the initial review if consumers do not wish to proceed with a transaction through Skipton they will not incur a fee.

Consumers who want to proceed with the advice from SFS will pay a fee which varies depending on the circumstances of the review but is based on SFS’s existing investment rates of 4.5%. This fee reduces for large investments and an ongoing adviser charge of 0.75% a year will be charged.

When Osborne launched his package of pension reforms which gave retirees the freedom to choose how to spend their pension pots he pledged that individuals approaching retirement would receive ‘free and impartial face-to-face guidance’.

Andrew Barker, managing director of SFS, said the Skipton’s response to this pledge goes beyond the guidance guarantee Osborne wants to implement.

“If a customer comes to Skipton and is passed to one of our advisers they will be given overall financial advice as opposed to just guidance. It is full advice on the range of options available.”

The building society said the £20k plus bracket of consumer has been neglected by advisers since the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) stopped them from receiving commission from providers.

Instead advisers need to charge an upfront fee for their service which has made it less profitable to deal with smaller investors.

He said: “We are not dealing with the typical IFA market particularly. Our customers are really investing from around about £20,000 upwards.

“These are typical building society customers who have to a large extent been disenfranchised by the RDR changes where most advisers have moved up to the £100,000 or £250,000 plus market.”

Barker said typically the clients SFS deals with are rarely courted by providers.

The retirement review service will be complemented by an online retirement planner.

Consumers proceeding with the advice will be guaranteed a call before making a final decision on their retirement pot as well as contact in each of the five years leading up to retirement.

While Skipton is not tied to one product provider it offers restricted advice from products across the Funds Network and Cofunds platforms.