Under fire pension transfer firms fail to show for MPs

Under fire pension transfer firms fail to show for MPs

A financial adviser and the director of a firm it used to bring in pension transfer clients among British Steel workers have both failed to show up to a hearing called by MPs to scrutinise the practice.

Darren Reynolds, director of Active Wealth and Clive Howells, managing director of Celtic Wealth Management, did not turn up today (13 December) to a hearing from the Work and Pensions select committee on the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) at the Parliament.

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.

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.

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), by 22 December.

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

Labour MP Frank Field said that he was surprised that Mr Reynolds and Mr Howells chose, at late notice, not to take up the invitation of the committee he chairs “to put their side of the story in a public forum”.

He said: “No doubt it is more of a loss to them than it is to parliamentary process. We will be putting further questions to them in writing. If their answers are not satisfactory, we may require them to come in.”

More than a hundred complaints have already landed with the Pensions Ombudsman about British Steel.

Due to concerns about the financial advice being given to BSPS members, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas) will be holding a public meeting for steelworkers tomorrow (14 December) in Port Talbot.

On Monday (11 December), the FCA announced it stopped three firms of giving defined benefit pension advice as part of its work concerning British Steel Pension Scheme.

The watchdog also said it will be visiting six more firms this week as part of these investigations.

The Pensions Advisory Service, in the meantime, has set up a dedicate phone line for the steelworkers.