British Steel  

FCA pursuing 'numerous' BSPS advice firms

FCA pursuing 'numerous' BSPS advice firms
Blast furnace at Port Talbot, Wales. Source: EPA/Newscast

The Financial Conduct Authority is pursuing "numerous" enforcement actions into suspected serious misconduct by firms and individuals who recommended transfers out of the old British Steel Pension Scheme.

The City watchdog has told FTAdviser it has now reviewed all the firms identified as high risk, which provided defined benefit transfer advice to former members of the BSPS, and found evidence pointing towards serious misconduct.

A spokesman for the FCA said: "We have reviewed all the firms identified as high risk that provided advice to British Steel customers.

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"We are pursuing numerous enforcement investigations into suspected serious misconduct by firms and individuals relating to advice on British Steel Pension Scheme.

"We want to get this right and are taking the same rigorous approach as we do with any other enforcement investigation."

The watchdog and the compensatory bodies have come under fire over recent months for the lack of visible action over the BSPS scandal.

>Justice delayed is justice denied, and these people are still waiting for answers and help.---Nick Smith MP

So far, the Financial Ombudsman Service has only produced one decision relating to BSPS DB transfer advice.

Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, is one of the cross-party ministers working together on a taskforce to help the former BSPS members receive the redress they are owed for the wrongful advice. 

Smith said: "MPs, steelworkers and campaigners have been raising the BSPS issues for years, but the action from the FCA continues to be limited and delayed.

"The FCA knows that this is a huge issue affecting thousands of people, but it fails to reflect this in its actions. Data collected by the regulator itself shows just how widespread bad advice was in the case of BSPS."

Of the 192 cases reviewed last summer, just 21 per cent included advice deemed to be suitable.

Smith added: "We’ve now called for a consumer redress scheme to review all of the advice given to BSPS members who transferred out. The FCA just completely ignored this possibility when we put it to them or [to] suggest an effective alternative.

"It’s hard to explain just how important the steel industry is to the people of South Wales, and so to have a pensions crisis of this scale has been devastating for those affected.

"Behind the statistics are real people who have worked hard for many years to provide for their families, only to be scammed and put their pension, their life savings, at risk. Justice delayed is justice denied, and these people are still waiting for answers and help."

Last week, FTAdviser reported on a letter sent by Smith and Kinnock to the FCA, urging chief executive Nikhil Rathi to detail what recommended legal changes the City watchdog has presented to the government in the wake of the debacle.

The letter also said the MPs were calling for an independent review of the FCA's role in the BSPS scandal, particularly relating to enforcement, as well as how the regulator and compensatory bodies have dealt with the victims.