Intelligent Pensions has been ordered to pay around £33,000 to a client after his defined benefit pension transfer was delayed.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has upheld Mr L’s complaint, who saw a reduction in his cash equivalent transfer value after since the three-month window for the transaction was missed.
Mr L received his transfer documents from his occupational pension scheme on February 7, 2017.
The document stated that the deadline to receive all the information necessary for the transfer was May 7 and if the deadline wasn’t fulfilled the CETV would be recalculated.
Mr L met with an adviser from Intelligent Pensions on February 21 to discuss the matter. The firm requested some scheme information from the administrators on April 24.
A Fos adjudicator considered the complaint should be upheld, since there wasn’t "any justifiable reason" why Intelligent Pensions hadn’t started work on the transfer until April 24.
She said that if the firm had started work on it shortly after the February 21 meeting, it would have been completed in time to secure the guaranteed transfer value; even with the delays caused by the missing information.
She also noted that the administrators had clearly said in its paperwork it may need to request information if any was missing. She thought Intelligent Pensions should have been aware of what information was required to complete the transfer within the guarantee period.
Ombudsman David Ashley upheld the complaint, largely for the same reasons given by the adjudicator.
He said: "Intelligent Pensions ought to have been aware and alert to the fact that securing the transfer value was time critical.
"In my view, it didn’t act reasonably in waiting several weeks before requesting the scheme information. I think against this background, it’s clear it failed to act in a timely manner."
The advice firm has been ordered to pay Mr L £33,422.65, plus or minus any growth or loss.
Intelligent Pensions issued its report and recommendations on April 27, with Mr L returning the declaration form on the same day.
The advice company called the administrators on May 2, asking what it required for the transfer to be secured. The administrators said they only needed the advice certificate and member section of the transfer agreement form to secure the transfer value.
Intelligent Pensions emailed the administrators scanned copies of the financial advice certificate, member declaration and letter of authority on May 3.
On May 8, the administrators told the firm that it couldn’t secure the transfer value, because it hadn’t received the transfer agreement form from the receiving scheme.
It said the transfer value would need to be recalculated. The transfer went ahead in early June 2017 – with a value of £1,003,121, which compares to the original guaranteed transfer value of £1,036,543.
The advice firm didn’t agree with the adjudicator’s assessment.
Although the firm accepted that the administrator’s original paperwork provided details of what documents it required, it said its standard process was to contact the occupational pension scheme by telephone to verify the requirements prior to submitting the paperwork.