Financial Services Compensation Scheme  

Advice firm Better Retirement Group fails with the FSCS

Advice firm Better Retirement Group fails with the FSCS
Pexels/Darius Krause

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has declared Better Retirement Group in default, after the lifeboat scheme said the firm had failed less than two years ago in error.

The advice firm entered liquidation back in September and now has 217 claims against it in total, with 199 in progress.

At least one claim is valid, which led to the firm being placed in default.

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So far, 18 claims have been rejected.

The claims all relate to pension transfer advice, and some are linked to the British Steel Pension Scheme.

Before falling into liquidation, Better Retirement Group had applied to stop all regulated activities on May 30, 2021.

Its liquidation triggered an investigation by the FSCS but a firm can only reach default status when it is both insolvent and has valid claims against it.

Following this investigation, the FSCS has found at least one valid claim.

Before the investigation, 17 cases received by the Financial Ombudsman Service had been upheld against Better Retirement Group last year. 

In 2021, the FSCS reversed a declaration of default against Better Retirement Group after it mistakenly said the firm had failed.

The default declaration was based on a winding up order which was later rescinded.

Better Retirement Group acted as the defined benefit transfer specialist for SVS Securities, a wealth manager which fell into special administration in 2019 after the Financial Conduct Authority identified "serious concerns" about the way the business was operating.

The regulator warned some clients were paying fees and charges as high as 20 per cent of their total investment

In an interview with FTAdviser last August, director of the Northampton-based advice firm Stuart Bayliss said he took the decision to remove individual 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’,” Bayliss said.

Some of the DB transfers Better Retirement Group did were invested with SVS and included some British Steel transfers.

The retiring director has previously argued British Steel represented less than half a per cent of overall transfers.

In October 2020, the advice firm suspended its defined benefit transfer permissions after failing to renew its professional indemnity insurance.

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com