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Pension transfers and rise of the robos: the week in news

Pension transfers and rise of the robos: the week in news

After months of talking about Brexit, Britain and the European Union have finally agreed they can start talking about Brexit

For anyone out there convinced there must be something else going on the news other than Brexit - surely - then you've come to the right place. It's time for the week in news.

1) Pension transfers that are finger lickin' good

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For advisers interested in finding out how to get their clients interested in their finances, the answer appears to be quite simple.

This week we learnt unregulated introducers are attempting to get British Steel pension scheme members to transfer their retirement pots by offering them chicken dinners.

Labour MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham, who has constituents affected by the failure of the pension scheme, said he heard of stories where people were being treated to “chicken in a basket” with a view to being persuaded to transfer their pensions out and into investments elsewhere.

Nick Smith, a Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent in Wales, said his constituents were also affected by this "scandal" (the pension transfers, not the chicken).

Mr Smith said the Financial Conduct Authority was providing insufficient support to steelworkers "at this crucial time".

This week the Pensions Ombudsman revealed it had received more than a hundred complaints from members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.

What could possibly go wrong?

2) Advice unrestricted by the rules

It would seem a fairly straight forward thing to know whether your firm is independent or restricted but if we're being generous this seems to have eluded Bluefin Insurance Services.

This week the FCA fined Bluefin £4m for pushing its parent company insurer Axa's products while claiming to be independent.

The FCA found Bluefin's independence was compromised by its culture, which included a policy focused on increasing the business placed with its parent company over treating customers fairly.

An investigation found it had inadequate systems and controls and failed to provide information to its customers about its independence in a way that was clear, fair and not misleading.

3) Cranking up the cracking down

The FCA has seen some things it doesn't like and one of them is firms operating at the margins of regulated activity that it believes pose a serious risk to consumers.

A lawyer close to the situation said this week that in a series of recent proceedings the FCA has sought to prosecute so-called introducer firms deemed to have misled consumers by not being clear about their unregulated status, or by transferring money into risky investments which later failed.

Meanwhile the FCA has this week also raised a red flag on offers of so-called 'free' pension advice.

The FCA said: “Free pension reviews are designed to persuade you to move money saved in an existing pension pot to a new scheme.

“Chances are your money will be invested in something that is either very risky or a scam.