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FCA urges BSPS members to act quickly and complain

FCA urges BSPS members to act quickly and complain

The Financial Conduct Authority has written a letter to individuals who transferred out of the British Steel Pension Scheme in 2016 urging them to file their complaints as soon as possible.

In a letter published yesterday (May 18), the regulator said there is generally a six-year time limit to complain and urged steelworkers to “complain now before it’s too late".

The letter, titled “ACTION NEEDED: if you transferred out of the British Steel Pension Scheme in 2016”, outlined a number of steps to check an individual’s advice or complaint. 

It told customers to check whether the advice was unsuitable using its advice checker, relaunched last month, and complain to the firm who gave the advice if there was any cause for concern.

The FCA said to call, write to or email the firm and if the individual is not satisfied with the response, it can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

“We are writing to you because you transferred out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) in 2016,” the City watchdog wrote. “Many people who have transferred out of the BSPS received unsuitable financial advice and could be entitled to compensation. You could be one of them. 

“We encourage you to consider the content of this letter and to act as soon as possible. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates financial advisers in the UK. We make the rules that financial advisers must follow and hold firms to account where they fall short.”

The FCA said in order to help former BSPS members who received unsuitable financial advice to transfer their pension, it is currently consulting on a redress scheme announced in March.

The regulator plans to deliver £71.2mn in compensation to former BSPS members who received unsuitable advice and estimated 1,400 steelworkers will be involved.

Redress represents a transfer to BSPS members who received unsuitable pension transfer advice from the firms that provided that advice, to the extent that they remain in business. 

If the scheme is implemented in line with the regulator’s proposals, then financial advice firms who advised members of the BSPS between May 26, 2016 and March 29, 2018 will have to review their advice. 

“If the advice they gave was unsuitable, then the firms will have to calculate if they owe compensation,” the FCA wrote. “If we introduce the scheme, we expect it to come into force in early 2023.”

The FCA said there is a possibility that the advice received by an individual will not be covered by the proposed scheme because too much time has passed. 

Following the redress scheme announcement, industry bodies and individuals welcomed it, saying it will be a means to get justice for many.

Commenting on the paper, MP Nick Smith said it has been “like pulling teeth to get to this point” but welcomed the scheme by the FCA.

“I have been working with steelworkers and campaigners on this for four years now and I know the toll it has taken on so many,” he said.