Advisers offer free counselling to steelworkers

Advisers offer free counselling to steelworkers

A group of financial advisers will be giving free counselling to members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) next week, as the deadline for pension holders to decide the best route for their retirement looms.

Around 130,000 steelworkers will have to choose to move their defined benefit (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).

Of the total members, 43,000 are deferred, which means that transferring out their pension is also an option for them.

The original deadline for these choices, 11 December, has been extended to 22 December by the scheme trustees.

Organised by Al Rush, principal at Rutland-based Echelon Wealthcare,Operation CHIVE - Counselling, Help, Information, Volunteer Exchange – is designed so that the people with suitable skills can put something back into the communities and “help people who aren’t as knowledgeable or as fortunate”.

The goal of these sessions is to help steelworkers make a decision about their pension or clarify any doubts from those that have already transferred out their pension pots.

Commercial activities will be forbidden in the face-to-face meetings, however, so no regulated financial advice will be given, though this could be arranged between the parties at a later date.

FTAdviser reported last week that several steelworkers appear to be transferring out their pensions after being lured by cheap deals by an introducer firm called Celtic Wealth Management & Financial Planning, which, because it is unable to give advice, then referred these clients to Active Wealth.

Several sources have said Celtic 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 to arrange their DB transfers.

For Operation CHIVE to work, Mr Rush is seeking at least 72 professionals to help with the sessions, and possibly as many as 138.

Besides financial advisers, Mr Rush also welcomes pension transfer specialists, a CF30 adviser or an experienced paraplanner as volunteers.

Port Talbot, Corby, Shotton, Scunthorpe and Llanwern are the location of the sessions, which will occur on 11 and 12 December, between 10 am and 8pm.

Mr Rush said: “We are not anti-business, we’re just anti bad business and there’s nothing to prevent a client leaving your session with a commercially favourable impression of you.

“So, please feel free to bring some business cards which will be made available centrally (with everyone else’s) to any client visiting.”

David Penney, chartered financial planner and company director at Penney Ruddy & Winter, Eugenie Cameron, chartered financial planner and manager of Cameron and Company Financial Planning, and Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Wingate Financial Planning are some of the financial advisers that already confirmed their presence at these sessions.