Defined Benefit  

British Steel review calls for adviser lists

She said: "Members were very unsure about who or where to go to, hence the reliance on word of mouth and the susceptibility to introducers.

"Letters could have been developed (and tested) in advance to send to those requesting a transfer, alerting them to the risks and telling them where to get help.

"It would have been helpful if the trustees had compiled a list of advisers willing and able to take on pensions transfer advice for the BSPS members.

"Instead, members were referred to Unbiased or the FCA website. The former is not unbiased and the latter is not easy to use, nor does it make clear if the particular firm of advisers deal with DB transfers.

"It also includes advisers under investigation. The trade unions would have liked to recommend specific advisers but were advised that they would be crossing the line into advice."

Royal London’s director of policy Steve Webb, a former pensions minister, said BSPS members were "right to feel let down".

Mr Webb said: "The trustees of the pension scheme failed to make sure that workers had access to high quality impartial advice when making decisions about their pensions. And regulators were slow to act when it became clear that things were going wrong. 

"Workers had a right to expect that people who understand the complexities of pensions would have used their expertise to help them make the right decisions, yet those who were in a position to act let them down."

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: "Hindsight is twenty-twenty as the saying goes. Indeed the recommendations from the Rookes review on the handling of the British Steel Pension Scheme are so sensible, such as trustees providing a panel of trusted advisers and having clear and effective communication, that it is somewhat worrying that they weren’t implemented at the time.

"However, the possibility of a deluge of requests coupled with unregulated individuals targeting vulnerable people probably did not cross the minds of the well intentioned trustees at the time as they were navigating in unchartered territory. 

"What is important is to take the lessons from the scenario and ensure these common sense solutions are implemented. It might not be long until there is another deluge of employees considering [their] pension rights."

Among the recommendations for regulators, Ms Rookes suggested that TPR and the DWP discussed whether there was scope for legislation to "simplify the choices in the event of a restructuring".

She also recommended TPR and the FCA explored a new power for TPR to consider the preparedness of a scheme to handle the member consultation exercise in the event of a restructuring and if necessary seek to delay or stop the member consultation.