Regulation  

DB specialist firm survives FCA investigation

DB specialist firm survives FCA investigation
 

A Chesterfield-based firm specialising in defined benefit transfer advice has survived an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Holistic Pension Transfer Specialists said it has taken 30 months to return to unrestricted trading, after six files were deemed "unclear" by the regulator in November 2019.

The City watchdog visited HPTS in November 2019 and immediately asked it to "voluntarily" withdraw from the market after six files dating from 2017-18 were found not to contain enough fact finding evidence. 

However administrative delays and the effects of the pandemic meant it was May 2021 before work could recommence and only then, with every file being checked closely. 

HPTS said this requirement has only recently been removed.

Head of advisory Clare Bruce, said: “We have spent nearly £300,000 in legal fees and running costs to fight our way through the FCA’s investigation and subsequent surveillance, but no inappropriate advice had been given and we were determined to prove our innocence. 

“Had we known at the outset how long it would take, it might have been another story, but coming out the other side of such an ordeal has given us an enormous sense of satisfaction.”

HPTS said after its external compliance support was criticised by the FCA, the firm engaged Manchester-based B-Compliant to undertake reviews of the files highlighted as inadequate and oversee changes to the systems and processes it had in place. 

B-Compliant director Vicky Pearce, said: “Anyone with DB permissions can expect to come under scrutiny from the regulator and so far, 20 or more firms have folded under the pressure. 

“HPTS has proved [that] if you are willing to jump through the FCA’s hoops and you have nothing to hide, you can operate in this high-risk market. The firm now has a clean bill of health and is producing advice to the highest standard. Reaching this point has been a huge learning curve, but it is moving forward with confidence and pride in its offering.”

sonia.rach@ft.com 

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