FCA action sees three more firms halt pension transfers

FCA action sees three more firms halt pension transfers

Three more firms have stopped giving defined benefit (DB) transfer advice after intervention from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as part of the watchdog's work concerning the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

Vintage Investment Services, in Stockton-on-tees, Retirement & Pension Planning Services Ltd, in Barnsley, and West Wales Financial Services Ltd, in Carmarthenshire, have all submitted voluntary requirements to the regulator and agreed to “cease all DB pension transfer business immediately,” according to their entries in FCA register.

These firms follow Active Wealth (UK), Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre and Mansion Park, whose permissions to conduct pension transfers had already been suspended.

One of the new restricted firms is the fourth company mentioned by Megan Butler, FCA’s head of supervision during her inquiry this week at the Work and Pensions select committee in Parliament, in which occasion she didn’t reveal the name.

In a letter to the committee after her testimony, Ms Butler revealed that the watchdog has visited and/or reviewed files from firms responsible for more than half of the pension transfers out from British Steel.

She said: “We understand from the figures provided by the scheme administrators that they believe around 2,200 BSPS members have transferred out of the scheme, or are in the process of doing so.

“We have visited and/or reviewed files from firms that have, between them, advised on around 1,520 transfers from the BSPS."

Steelworkers have until 22 December to decide whether to move their DB pension pots to a new plan being created, BSPS II, or stay in the current fund, which will be moved to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The failed scheme has about 130,000 members of which 43,000 are deferred, which means transferring out of their pension is an option for them.

FTAdviser reported in November that several steelworkers appeared to be transferring out their pensions after being lured by cheap deals by unregulated introducer firm Celtic Wealth Management & Financial Planning, which then referred the clients to advice firm Active Wealth.