Better Retirement Group: 'We removed all individuals' regulated permissions’

Better Retirement Group: 'We removed all individuals' regulated permissions’

Northampton-based Better Retirement Group has voluntarily had its regulated permissions removed by the regulator as the director of the firm looks to retire. 

The IFA firm, which advised some members of the British Steel Pension Scheme, has stopped all of its activity.

This comes after the firm suspended its defined benefit transfer permissions after failing to renew its professional indemnity insurance back in October 2020.

Speaking to FTAdviser, director at Better Retirement Group, Stuart Bayliss said: “We removed all individuals' regulated permissions and therefore requested our permissions to be taken away.

“I personally took myself off as well. I am 67 and I'm retiring. All the others who wanted to remain have gone to other regulated firms over a period of four to five months, the last of which was at the end of April.”

According to the FCA register, the firm applied to stop all regulated activities on May 30. 

Bayliss explained that Better Retirement Group was the “last man standing” when it came to complaints regarding SVS Securities.

SVS Securities fell into special administration in 2019 after the FCA identified "serious concerns" about the way the business was operating, with the regulator warning some clients were paying fees and charges as high as 20 per cent of their total investment

Compensation was being given out on SVS Securities by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, he explained.

“As Better Retirement Group acted as the DB transfer specialist and the adviser had also gone into liquidation, if people complained, the FSCS spent nine months reviewing it, and then said, Better Retirement Group is still in business so go to them.”

In February, the FSCS said it had paid out a total of £31.6mn in compensation to former clients of failed wealth manager SVS Securities.

Bayliss said he took the decision to remove permissions as a way of helping those awaiting compensation.

“The bottom line is that some of those complaints have been upheld, ignoring completely where people had said, ‘I'm not complaining about Better Retirement Group, I'm complaining about SVS’.

“Now at 67, my easiest route is to retire. It made sense for me to just say ‘look, if this is the way in which the rules are, I believe the quickest way for these people to get the compensation they deserve from the SVS debacle is for us to step out of the way’.”

The management of the business removed all regulated individuals, and therefore, the consequence of which was to require the removal of regulated status since the principal and shareholder is retiring.

Better Retirement Group had done a significant number of DB transfers which had an issue as some of those were invested with SVS and included some British Steel transfers.

“We have actually got three British Steel transfers who have not complained even now and don't want to complain, ironically enough, but the other thing is that British Steel represented less than half a per cent of transfers,” he said.