Pension Pot Testimonial, continued...
Most IFAs told me that it wasn’t really worth their while unless the pot was over £250k – only at that point did their percentage fee p.a. become interesting and pass their risk / reward criteria.
By August we had run out of ideas. After stirring the pot back at the Sponsor, they pointed us at WPS Advisory in October.
Let me just take a moment to put this in context. Andy has no savings. Most of the IFAs, that we spoke to, wanted him to pay an upfront fee (these ranged from £1k to £5k) and an ongoing fee, typically presented as a percentage of his pension pot, each year – indeed, there was an implication that on-going management of the pot was part of the agreement. Disappointingly, none of these firms agreed to help us in the end.
I was referred to WPS by the firm who managed the money on behalf of Andy’s pension scheme. When I followed this up and made the call I spoke to Mick Hewitt and Jo Stephens. Both were engaging, showed interest and wanted to help. We felt encouraged for the first time (when speaking to an IFA).
Jo told me that WPS understood the Scheme looking after Andy’s money as they had advised many people in the past. This was the first piece of good news because it made a difference to the fees we would pay. Jo also very clearly stated there was no obligation for us to use WPS for the ongoing management of Andy’s pension pot if it turned out that it was right for him to transfer his pensions.
Mick then took us through some general questions, then passed us on to the amazing Nicola Briggs. From our first conversation, I realised that Nicola was going to see this through for us. Like all the WPS staff we dealt with, she was engaging, professional and, more than anything else, always did what she said she would do – what a difference that makes – it builds trust.
I explained that my aim was to get Andy’s pension accessible to him before Christmas. Nicola thought that this was a realistic aim.
Nicola undertook a thorough review of Andy’s personal circumstances, sent us a personal recommendation explaining that in view of Andy’s needs and wants she considered a transfer was the right thing for him to do.
She also reminded us again of the risks involved and made it clear Andy should only consider transferring if he fully understood the implications of the decision. Nicola also recommended we take an ongoing service costing £750 each year.
During the Christmas period Nicola was taking a (well earned) break and we spoke to Kishan, who yet again was interested, professional and always called back when he said he would. Andy received his 25% lump sum on 30th December, to many huge sighs of relief.
This is life changing for him. He can now afford to stop working outside in the cold Scottish winter and attempt to recover more fully from his stroke.
We are all very grateful for the help we received for Andy, and we offered to provide this reference. I engaged with Simon Chrystal and he explained to me how difficult it was for people to understand what was involved in receiving financial advice, to know they were getting advice they could trust, the costs involved.
He suggested that if we provided a reference we should list the positives of the experience, but also the challenges we experienced, not just in getting advice, but also in working with WPS, then this reference could be seen to be real for people who are looking for help, rather than simply looking like a promotion tool for WPS that they had almost written themselves.
So, below is our list, set out just as I asked it would be:
- We obviously found WPS to be pleasantly different to the other IFAs that we had engaged with. They have a strong “can do” culture that we experienced consistently from everyone we dealt with.
- Their services are effective and good value when compared to the market. In particular we found it helpful that:
- At no time did we feel like we were being sold a product or service. Only that we were being offered advice.
- In the main, WPS avoided financial services and pension jargon.
- It doesn’t matter who you talk to at WPS, they all share the same customer service values and they focus on action and making things happen.
- Had we not found WPS, we may well have given up. I’m sure that there are many people out there, who have done exactly that. Thank you, WPS, especially Nicola.
- Getting advice at a price you can clearly see and without apparent add-on services is very difficult;
- Why did the people managing Andy’s money, in his Scheme, not just refer us to WPS in the first place, they clearly knew who they were;
- Our first contact with WPS was on 14 October 2019, it took until 30 December 2019 for Andy to receive his money. That is 11 weeks for what felt like 2 weeks of actual work.
- We are happy with the ongoing arrangements, and the fact we can see what we are paying in £ and p, but consider this, Andy will draw down his saving at £7,500 each year for the next 10 years or so.
WPS are clearly competitive, but these fees represent 10% of his annual income, can this really be fair and is there not a better way the industry can find to help people like Andy?