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Some 32% of pension savers using drawdown to fund retirement have no investment experience and two in five (41%) of these drawdown beginners have received no financial advice or guidance, according to new research.
SIPP operator Curtis Banks is further expanding into the UK commercial property market with the launch of two new companies.

Stock market volatility and economic uncertainty have led to a sharp spike in over-50s being risk-averse with their pension savings, new research indicated.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has enlisted former Which? executive director Richard Lloyd to head a review into FOS’s complaints handling.

The review was launched after the FOS was heavily criticised following an undercover investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, in March, which appeared to show that complaints were being handled by insufficiently trained officials.

The documentary suggested that some officials had to use internet search engines to find out about the products they were considering.

Mr Lloyd, who is vice chair of Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and is UK chairman of complaints handler Resolver, will lead the independent probe and his remit has also been revealed.

He is to be granted “full access and the resources necessary” to carry out a review and can go where the investigation takes him, with unrestricted access to FOS staff and all documents.

The review will be completed by the end of June.

A document published by FOS, in relation to the review’s parameters, read: “The review will assess the evidence presented by Dispatches in respect of each of the issues raised in the programme, to consider whether there are any matters of substance which should be addressed, although it will not be restricted to the issues raised in the programme.

“If the review finds matters for concern, it will seek to identify possible root causes for them (such as management action or inaction, cultural factors, staff objectives and performance management, organisational structure or any other underlying factor) and how they might be addressed.

“The review will also consider staff morale and the factors which contribute to it.”

It was also revealed that the investigation will look into the extent to which the current governance and arrangements for providing assurance about the work of FOS to its board, including whistleblowing procedures, “are applied effectively and consistently.”

As head of the review, Mr Lloyd will be able to make recommendations for strengthening governance and assurance arrangements in his final report.
The Association of British Insurers has released a five point plan aimed at ‘engaging’ consumers with their retirement options far earlier in life than currently.

The ABI is concerned that half of fully withdrawn pension pots are not spent but shifted into other savings and investments which the ABI says could mean consumers paying too much tax and also missing out on compound investment growth.

It fears some consumers are blundering due to lack of long term planning and engagement with their retirement options.

The trade body’s plan is contained in a new report, Interventions in the Retirement Market, which outlines a series of measures the financial provider trade body wants to see.

The ABI says that three years on from the dawn of pension flexibility reforms under the Pension Freedom changes, it is “stepping up” efforts to ensure that consumers are getting the best out of their retirement.

The ABI’s five point plan promotes active consumer engagement – empowering consumers to make their own, well-informed decisions through improved communications and use of guidance.

The five interventions the ABI wants to see are:

• Intervention 1: Tailored and phased customer communications throughout a saver’s life
• Intervention 2: Creating the mid-life MOT
• Intervention 3: Prompting more people to use guidance
• Intervention 4: Making the retirement risk warnings fit for purpose
• Intervention 5: Improvements to communications once someone has retired

Rob Yuille, head of retirement policy at the ABI, said: "Pension freedoms put more power into the hands of consumers, but this flexibility also increased the complexity and risks that consumers face.

“Our recommendations are for interventions that will transform the way people interact with their pension pots and help people navigate their choices. We’re calling on a number of stakeholders today to help us to deliver the practical steps needed to make these interventions happen.”
Aegon has called for the limit on Income Tax and NI relief on employer-arranged pension advice to be doubled.
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