Several steelworkers appear to be transferring out their defined benefit (DB) pensions from the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS), after being lured by an introducer firm called Celtic Wealth Management & Financial Planning.
FTAdviser understands from several sources that the firm has been present at several roadshows from the scheme trustees which are attended by members wanting more clarifications about their pensions, and proposing to them a flat fee of £1,500 on their DB transfers.
Celtic Wealth confirmed to FTAdviser that it is charging this fee, which is "the initial adviser charge".
However, the firm "is not authorised to provide advice and indeed it does not do so".
It said: "All regulated advice in relation to pensions and investments is given by Active Wealth (UK) Ltd. All clients introduced to Active Wealth are seen face to face by a fully regulated adviser of that firm.
“Celtic Wealth has been approached by members of the BSPS and for all clients it is made clear that all advice provided by Active Wealth is tailored to each individual client’s needs.”
Celtic Wealth said that its role is to act as an introducer, and it doesn’t, “in any way, influence the client’s decision to proceed with the transfer”.
It added: “The assessment of the client’s retirement needs and the development of an appropriate solution to meet those needs, as well as the delivery of all regulated advice, is entirely restricted to Active Wealth in its capacity as an authorised firm.
“Celtic, other than introducing BSPS members to Active Wealth to determine what might be in their best interests, is not ‘involved’ in transfer cases.”
The Financial Conduct Authority has told Active Wealth, in the meantime, to stop accepting any new clients on pension business.
A note on the FCA register entry for the firm also said that the company must not offer pension advice to existing clients unless that advice is signed off by an independent third-party.
Active Wealth must also write to current customers about the restrictions it is under and request permission to share information with any relevant third-party in this regard.
Darren Reynolds, chartered financial planner at Active Wealth, did not reply to requests for comment on any of these issues by press time.
As an introducer, Celtic Wealth is remunerated by the financial adviser firm for introductions, and this is usually a percentage of the initial adviser charge, which is standard practice in the market, the firm said.
"Generally, the adviser charge will be deducted from the pension fund if the transfer proceeds," it added.
Steve Carlson, a chartered financial planner at Cardiff-based Carlson Wealth Management who has taken some of the steelworkers in Wales as customers, told FTAdviser that £1,500 is a very low charge.
He said: “The average on the market is 2 or 3 per cent of the transfer value.
“If they’re only charging £1,500 for transferring a pension that could be worth £200,000, £300,000 or £400,000, it is very very cheap.”