Opperman says in-house IFA should be part of HR offering

Employers should follow the lead of a Stoke-on-Trent pottery business that brings an IFA into their business on a regular basis as part of their HR offering, pension and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman says.

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association conference today, Opperman said Stoke-based Steelite, whose premises he had visited today, should be applauded for offering free advice to its hundreds of staff by having an IFA based on their premises.

Setting out his financial inclusion credentials, Opperman said he was the only MP in the House of Commons who had set up a community bank to take on payday lenders by offering his constituents loans at reasonable rates.

Opperman confirmed that the Department for Work and Pensions would lead the pensions dashboard project, although he did not commit to a timetable beyond saying a further announcement should be expected in Spring 2018.

He said the Bill to establish a single financial guidance body should receive Royal assent next March, while an update on the auto-enrolment review should be published some time around 6th December 2017. He also expressed support for the idea of a mid-life financial advice MOT, namechecking Aviva for offering it to its staff, and said a consultation on how to communicate costs and charges in pensions, for the benefit of trustees, consutants and informed members, was also in the pipeline.

Opperman said: “Today I visited Steelite in Stoke. They are a company with several hundred employees in a pottery business. They employ an IFA to give advice to their workers. There are not many situations where an IFA is coming into a pottery business to advise them on pension. I do see things like this going forward. He is a massive addition to the business that they have.

“I’m first minister to be made financial inclusion minister. I am delighted it has been linked to the pensions portfolio. I come from a background of action to address financial inclusion in my community. I look at the Government’s decision just since June to proceed with a single guidance body, to proceed with the dashboard, to proceed with the creation of a financial inclusion minister.

“We can all talk about the way we want people to be more match fit for the future. When I ran the living wage campaign back in 2012/13, and went to the Chancellor to make the case that not only was paying cleaners a living wage the right thing to do but also the right thing to do for staff retention and productivity, but when we look at the way people run their businesses I am always stunned and amazed by how little organisations in all aspects of financial services don’t necessarily give financial capability, advice, financial HR to their employees. So my job is also to nudge, encourage and applaud things such as a potteries business in Stoke brings in a financial adviser in on a regular basis and has done for many years. There aren’t many businesses who do that, who effectively provide financial advice for free, as part of their HR. Trying to change the behaviour of the wider public but also look in the mirror and ask yourself does your business – it’s my job as financial inclusion minister to encourage people to do that.

“I’m proud to be the only Member of Parliament to have set up a community bank, which is fully regulated, launched with the Church of England, making low cost loans to constituents. At the time Newcastle United were being sponsored by Wonga, we took (Archbishop of Canterbury) Justin Welby at his word and took on the payday lenders.”