Opinion 

Pension adviser watchlist represents failure of regulation

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) is working on a closed list with names of pensions schemes and advisers that have been flagged up as potential scammers.

The trade body's list will be shared among pension scheme trustees and providers.

Margaret Snowdon, chairman of the association, said the goal of the list isn't to stop any pension transfers, but to raise awareness among trustees and providers when a name in the list pops up, so they can increase their due diligence.

The fact PASA has felt the need to produce this kind of list – basically a shared one combining the lists that already exists at many pension providers – shows the scale of the regulator’s failure to protect savers from scammers.

Ahead of pension freedoms being introduced, providers were told to act as a second line of defence between pension scammers and savers.

This bid to prevent scammers grabbing unsuspecting savers cash resulted in providers producing their own lists of “red flag” companies, whose requests meant extra questions needed to be asked by the current scheme’s staff.

Just as I think it is sad that storekeepers have to employ CCTV and security guards today, rather than rely on a better resourced police force and sturdier criminal justice system to keep shoplifters locked away, I think it is a failure of regulation that providers have to produce these lists at all.

The fact the PASA feels it must pull this list together and share among providers just flags that the regulator is not on top of this issue.

I am sure providers flag their concerns about certain advisers with the regulator.

If the regulator acted more swiftly to see if these concerns were justified or if they were unwarranted then providers wouldn’t need to have those firms under suspicion.

Providers wouldn’t have to watch if the FCA was swifter to investigate when red flags were raised.

emma.hughes@ft.com

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