Pensions  

Watch out, Sir Philip: the week in news

Watch out, Sir Philip: the week in news

It's been one of the busiest news weeks since the summer, and as ever Brexit hogged the headlines.

On Thursday, the High Court ruled that the government must consult parliament before triggering Article 50, promising several months of heated and time-consuming debates in both houses.

How much time this will leave them to debate the content of Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement, due at the end of the month, let alone issues such as pension reform, remains to be seen.

Article continues after advert

But behind the dramatic national headlines, there were plenty of developments in the financial services world - top of the list being news that controversial ex-owner of BHS Sir Philip Green is being pursued by The Pensions Regulator.

1) Watch out Sir Philip, the regulator's coming

Sir Philip Green's sale of BHS for a pound last year, and the subsequent collapse of both the business itself and its pension scheme, have been an ongoing controversy this year. 

The Work and Pensions Select Committee described Sir Philip as the "unacceptable face of capitalism" in a damning verdict on his conduct, while MPs voted to strip him of his knighthood. But neither of these actually helped the pensioners left by the wayside.

This week, however, the regulator bared its teeth, issuing Sir Philip and his successor Dominic Chappell warning notices calling for them to support the pension scheme, currently sitting in the Pension Protection Fund.

According to TPR, each notice runs to more than 300 pages and sets out the arguments and evidence as to why the regulator believes the respondent should be liable to support the BHS pension schemes.

2) Power of attorney anxieties revealed

Our most-read story this week revealed advisers were increasingly concerned that client's who had handed over power of attorney were not having their best interests served.

Phil Young, managing director of compliance firm ThreeSixty Services, said problems arose for financial advisers when a power of attorney makes decisions about money or property belonging to a client, which the adviser feels is not in the client’s best interest.

He said this was becoming an increasing problem as improvements in longevity left more people physically well but with deteriorating mental capabilities - and therefore needing power of attorney.

3) Aegon under fire for messing up divorce settlement

Life company Aegon received a dressing-down from the Financial Ombudsman Service this week, after it made a major blunder in the divorce settlement of two clients.

In the divorce settlement, Mr and Mrs "C" agreed to split an Aegon personal pension down the middle. However, Aegon mistakenly transferred the entire amount to the to Mrs C, who unwittingly spent most of it.

In a final decision, ombudsman Benjamin Taylor said: “This is an extremely sad situation and Aegon has made a number of significant errors. 

“Mrs C, having been through the difficult time of a divorce and having to find a new home and start afresh with little financial provision, has made some understandable decisions with the money she received from Aegon."