Defined BenefitJun 19 2019

FCA reveals insistent client numbers

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FCA reveals insistent client numbers
ByMaria Espadinha

Almost 10,000 customers who were advised against transferring out of their defined benefit pension scheme ended up doing so on an insistent basis, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

The regulator today (June 19) published the results of its survey of 3,015 firms between April 2015 and September 2018, which concluded that too much DB transfer advice was "still not of an acceptable standard".

The data showed of those advised not to transfer, 13 per cent (9,534 people) did so anyway, with 26 per cent of the firms surveyed facilitating transfers for insistent clients.

However, Megan Butler, FCA’s executive director of supervision, wholesale and specialists, said at this stage the regulator was not drawing any conclusions from these findings.

She told FTAdviser: "We need to do more work with the firms whom we have identified they have insistent clients. If a firm has a particular high number of insistent clients that would be a factor we would take into account when prioritising our work with them."

For Benjamin Fabi, chartered financial planner and outsourced paraplanner, said the numbers were concerning.

He said: "Unfortunately, insistent clients will always crop up in the advice process. There are many firms who will tell a client that jumping off a cliff is not advisable, then build a platform from which they can leap.

"That 26 per cent of firms responding would facilitate DB transfers is worrying but the numbers don’t give the full picture. I think it would be helpful to see a breakdown of quarterly data from within the period the FCA review covers. My expectation is that the number of insistent clients would show a decline."

Mr Fabi also noted that when an ombudsman reviews a complaint, the existence of an insistent client declaration is not a protection from liability for the transfer.

"Firms accepting insistent clients for advice as complex as DB transfers would do well to bear this in mind," he said.

In April experts warned that financial advisers should refuse to deal with insistent clients, as they won’t have a lot of protection if their cases reach the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Ricky Chan, chartered financial planner and director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, said firms should stop accepting insistent clients, but he understands why they choose not to.

He said: "The requirement is only that clients seek independent advice - it does not state that the advice must be a positive recommendation.

"The FCA has provided a clear three-step process in dealing with insistent clients, and provided the clients are truly insistent clients I don’t see a problem.