The FCA has visited 16 advice firms to review their recommendations to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme, the regulator has disclosed.
In a letter to work and pensions select committee chair Frank Field, FCA strategy and competition director Chris Woolard confirms the scope of the regulator’s work to date as it continues to assess client files amid concerns rogue advisers are taking advantage of steel workers.
Advice firms including Active Wealth have already ceased their advice on pension transfers after discussions with the FCA, and advisers have grouped together to offer counselling and pro-bono guidance to British Steel workers as fears increase that they are being strong-armed into transferring ahead of a deadline to either join a new scheme or take benefits from the Pension Protection Fund.
Woolard writes: “We have clear rules and requirements of regulated advisers providing advice on pension transfers and we are taking action now to ensure firms are aware of their obligations.
“To be clear, our position is that transferring a pension out of a defined benefit scheme is unlikely to be in a consumer’s best interests. Any regulated adviser providing such advice needs to ensure they have sufficient, well-evidenced reasons for doing so that meet our rules and requirements.
“We have been made aware of reports that some regulated advisers have been targeting BSPS members and providing poor advice on transferring from their defined benefit scheme into a defined contribution scheme or other investment. As such, we have sought to intervene to remind all regulated advisers of our clear and firm expectations of them by holding seminars and writing to all regulated pension transfer advisers in the affected areas.”
Woolard says the FCA may consider redress for pensioners where it finds cases of advice mis-selling.