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British Steel adviser fails with 17 claims at FSCS

British Steel adviser fails with 17 claims at FSCS

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has declared another advice firm involved in the British Steel pensions saga in default. 

Argent Wealth Ltd, which Companies House states commenced winding up in July last year, was acknowledged by the FSCS as in liquidation at 20 January this year.

As a result, the FSCS said it was satisfied that Argent Wealth Ltd - which has five other trading styles registered on the Financial Conduct Authority register - could not pay any claims.

In a statement, the FSCS said it had received 17 claims applications from former customers of Argent Wealth, which it is currently investigating.

All of the claims relate to pension transfer advice, with eight relating to the British Steel Pension Scheme. 

This comes after last June, the advice firm was told to pay out after the Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) found its advice was “insufficiently compelling” and the transfer should not have gone ahead.

The Fos concluded that Argent Wealth gave unsuitable advice as it was unlikely that the benefits available from the BSPS, or the Pension Protection Fund, could be outmatched by going ahead with the transfer.

Ombudsman Philip Miller ordered the firm to put the client into the position he would be in had it not been for the unsuitable advice, up to a maximum of £160,000.

Other BSPS advisers declared in default to date include: PWH Financial Planning (trading as WGN Wealth Management), Acklam Financial, A. W. Dallas Financial Services (trading as Portfolio Pension Consultancy), Independent Benefit Consultancy, Tramway Financial Management and West Wales Financial Services (trading as IWA Financial Solutions, and Mike Powell Mortgages).

The BSPS case

During 2017, BSPS members were asked to make decisions about their pensions as part of a restructure of the scheme.

About 8,000 members transferred out of the scheme, with transfers collectively worth about £2.8bn.

But concerns about the suitability of the transfers were soon raised, leading to an intervention from the Financial Conduct Authority that resulted in a number of advice firms – key players in the debacle – stopping their transfer advice service, while others went out of business.

The debacle created a mountain of liabilities, which lawyers believe could end up costing the industry up to £300m.

In September, the FCA and FSCS travelled to Swansea to meet steelworkers who could be due compensation but were met with mixed feelings, with some showing no interest while others claimed they were unable to book a place.

The City watchdog also travelled to Swansea in November to meet steelworkers about bringing possible claims against their adviser.

sonia.rach@ft.com

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