The president of the Society of Pension Consultants (SPC) says too many consultants operating in the UK market lack a wider view of pensions and thus fail their clients.
Roger Mattingly, who became president of the society in June 2012, said the industry was showing signs of mediocrity as consultants, both new and old, now focus on becoming experts in specific areas, failing to offer clients rounded advice.
“Consultants need a greater ‘Google Earth’ approach to scheme management,” Mattingly said.
“They need to look at basic aspects, such as, if assets fall in the scheme, does this also weaken the employer covenant.”
“But for every excellent actuary and consultant that does this, there are two or three that just are not good enough.
“It’s frustrating for the SPC. When I come across an excellent consultant, especially ones that can do both defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC), I get very excited.
“But one day I’m impressed – the next, I’m deflated.”
In his role as president, he said he wanted to bring up the standards of consultancy in the UK market, and argued that members that failed to “step up” should fall by the wayside.
Mattingly admitted he was unclear on the cause of the issue, or whether it came from consultancies, consultants or trustees.
However, he said he understood consultants felt the need to be seen as experts in specific fields.
“It does not take much to get an all-round picture – it’s an awareness and about being savvy,” he said.
Mattingly, in the middle of 2013, left his role as a consultant at JLT Employee Benefits to become an independent trustee.
He said he was not fully aware of the issue within the market until he came across other consultants in his new role on trustee boards.
“Advisers should be able to see the whole picture and put things into context for their clients,” he said. “They need to assess employer covenants. Ratings may look rosy, but they need to understand the risk to the business sector as a whole.”
He added the difference in the quality of advice was most significant between DB and DC clients.
“The mindset is like chalk and cheese,” he said. ”The industry has separated itself. There is some excellent, but also products of extreme mediocrity in DC.”