At Citywide our goal is to help you to meet yours. That means the strategy we build together is borne out of listening to you, understanding where you want to be and setting out a roadmap to get you there. It’s a direct partnership, between you and us.
But along with empathy and understanding, to do our job to the highest possible standard, we also need expertise and experience. That’s why we work hard to keep Citywide at the cutting edge of what financial planning can do. Achieving industry standards may seem generic, a touch remote from your specific goals, but they’re important for two reasons. First, they recognise the hard work we put into achieving the highest possible standards and secondly, they act as an illustration to you that we’re very serious about what we do.
If you’re new to Citywide, they’re a great indication that we’re all about exceptional service and if you’ve been working with us for a while already, they’re a handy reminder that we continue to strive for the very best.
Reinforcing our promise to you
With that in mind, we’re delighted to have achieved a run of key standards lately, beginning with Clinton’s re-accreditation for ISO 22222 along with David Smith’s first-time accreditation. It’s the standard that defines the process for personal financial planning firms, ensuring they operate with sound ethics and genuine experience.
As a firm, we’ve also achieved two more important standards in recent weeks, beginning with the snappily named BS 8577. We can almost hear your blank stare, so to give you some context, BS 8577 is a British Standard designed to “assess and award financial planning firms who can demonstrate that they have the operational framework in place to deliver a first class service to their clients.”
We hold giving you the very best service above everything else, so this is a useful benchmark, confirming that our service and internal processes stand up to the British Standard of best practice. It’s no mean feat either, to get there involves a rigorous process of assessment by an independent certification body that digs into the nuts and bolts of the service we provide. To retain the accreditation we’ll need to do the same next year, but we’ll happily do that – and every year thereafter – to ensure that we stay on top form and that we keep our promise to you, to be the very best financial planners we can.
The second standard we’d like to tell you about is the Pension Transfer Gold Standard from the Pension Advice Taskforce (PAT), part of the Personal Finance Society (PFS). When you see the words ‘Gold Standard’ associated with a company your brain probably performs a familiar shorthand, envisaging a company at the peak of its discipline. And that’s exactly what it is, it’s a representation of a company’s commitment to ensuring its practices are at the highest attainable level.
Pension transfers are complicated and they’re something to be undertaken only with an absolute grasp of what will happen and what it means for the client and their future. In short, it means forgoing your current pension scheme benefits in favour of transferring funds into a separate, more flexible pension. As with any major financial decision there are risks to consider alongside the potential benefits and this is where Citywide comes in. With our trained and dedicated experts, we’ll be here to advise you on exactly how (or how not) to execute a pension transfer.
The Gold Standard confirms that we meet the nine PFS principles, which are as follows:
- Helping clients to understand when advice is appropriate
- Ensuring advice supports the client’s overall wellbeing in the context of their objectives
- Ensuring the client’s understanding and acceptance of all charges
- Ensuring the most appropriate and updated technical skills are applied
- Transparent management of any conflicts of interest
- Helping clients to understand the cost of transferring benefits
- Avoiding unregulated investments and introducers
- Transparency in advice processes and outcomes
- Promoting the Consumer Guide to the Pension Transfer Gold Standard
About pension transfers
It’s a legal requirement to take financial advice if your pension scheme is valued at £30,000 or above and to be eligible for a transfer you must also be a part of either a private defined benefit scheme or a public sector pension scheme – such as a local government pension.
But whatever the value of your current scheme, it’s also really sensible to get expert advice on whether a pension transfer is the right route for you. You might decide to stay where you are because your pension is your primary source of income in retirement, it’s enough and it’s guaranteed to support you and any dependant partners until your death, so it’s reassuring to leave it where it is.
On the other hand, your pension might not be your only income and you might feel you want to explore lower fees or a scheme that gives you more flexibility around how you take your benefits. There are other things to consider too – what the actual transfer value would be, any exit fees from your current provider and any setup fees with the new one. It’s those kinds of questions that we’ll address when we work with you to understand how a pension transfer might affect your finances now and in future and crucially, whether it’s the right move for you.
Industry recognition aside, whatever you’re looking to do next, we’d love to explore how we can help. At Citywide we believe financial planning is something that should evolve with you and stay by your side for as long as you need it. It all start with listening to you, so if you’re ready, we’d love to talk.