An IFA firm that was critical of the media’s coverage of the British Steel pension scandal has stopped advising on pension transfers, following intervention from the regulator.
The firm, County Capital Wealth Management – which also trades as The Pension Review Service – says it has voluntary suspended its pension transfer permissions, but expects this to be temporary.
Speaking to Money Marketing, County Capital Wealth Management managing director Mark Abley says: “This is part of our ongoing discussions with the regulator.”
He says the FCA feedback related to “technical aspects” of the DB transfer process, adding “there was no question of customer detriment”.
Abley adds: “We are not seeing this as a negative thing, but as a positive way to make these improvements to our processes. We have listened to the regulator’s feedback and look forward to getting our permissions reinstated in the very near future.”
In December the firm submitted a letter to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, saying that advisers were subject to a “trial by Twitter” over the advice given to British Steel pension members.
The letter said reporting of problems with advice given to BSPS members had “bordered on the hysterical”.
It adds: “Advice firms have had their reputations tarnished by their involvement in the process. Most of these firms are well run and offer good, sound and practical advice.”
The advisory firm has three authorised individuals and employs 15 staff. It is based in County Durham and also has offices in Scunthorpe and London. It has offered advice to a number of members of the BSPS – which is in the process of restructuring.
Several advisory firms have stopped offering advice on DB transfers followed investigations by the FCA. Many of these investigations have focused on firms that have given advice to BSPS members – amid concerns about the quality of this advice, and fears that members are being wrongly advised to transfer out of this DB scheme.
The Work and Pensions Committee has been highly critical of how the FCA has handled this emerging issue, and urged it to review all firms offering advice to BSPS members.