Defined Benefit  

FCA reveals scale of steelworkers’ pension advice probe

FCA reveals scale of steelworkers’ pension advice probe

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has visited and/or reviewed files from firms responsible for more than half of the pension transfers out from the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

Megan Butler, the FCA’s head of supervision, wrote on Wednesday (13 December) to the chair of the Work and Pensions select committee, Frank Field, giving more detail of the regulator’s work in the steelworkers’ case, after concerns were raised about the suitability of the advice they received.

Steelworkers have until 22 December to decide whether 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).

The failed scheme has about 130,000 members of which 43,000 are deferred, which means transferring out of their pension is an option for them.

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.

Ms Butler said: “We understand from the figures provided by the scheme administrators that they believe around 2,200 BSPS members have transferred out of the scheme, or are in the process of doing so.

“We have visited and/or reviewed files from firms that have, between them, advised on around 1,520 transfers from the BSPS."

This work has allowed the watchdog to accept voluntary requests from four firms that agreed to stop carrying out defined benefit transfers.

Active Wealth, Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre and Mansion Park are the three firms which are now referenced in the FCA register.

Regarding the fourth firm, Ms Butler said: “A further firm has agreed to stop providing pension advice. As this firm is not currently on our public register I cannot provide the name.

“Legislation restricts what we can say with cases currently under investigation and those going through our enforcement processes.”

Ms Butler added that the FCA has visited 13 firms as part of this work, and has plans to continue with this approach.

She said: “This work Is very much on-going and further visits may take place.”

Responding to Mr Field's criticisms of the FCA's work, Ms Butler said she is proud of her team and what they have achieved.

She said: “They have acted swiftly to prevent harm to BSPS members and will continue to look into the events over the last few weeks to make sure we continue to take appropriate, swift action.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com