Company directors and IFAs found guilty of dragging their heals over the pension misselling review will be kicked out of the industry under tough new Treasury plans.
Treasury economic secretary Helen Liddell, in her latest attempt to keep the pensions review high on the political agenda, revealed that individual directors, managers and sales staff could be fined, reprimanded or run out of the business.
Directors whose companies miss targets for completing the review will not auto- matically be punished but Liddell says they would place themselves "in peril".
Liddell will have to wait until directors are individually registered next year by the PIA before she can target specific people.
She says: "Far too many across the industry – from big insurance companies to small IFAs – have been far too slow to act. Some firms have hardly started. They have not yet grasped the severity of the situation."
Latest review figures show that only nine of the 41 worst firms have reviewed more than 50 per cent of cases. Five firms, including IFA networks DBS and Countrywide, have reviewed less than 22 per cent.
The companies on the list, including Legal & General, Pearl and Prudential, have played down this latest threat, claiming they are doing all in their power to meet the review deadlines.
Liddell expressed concern that life offices and IFAs are using the review to sell more products although she admitted she had no hard evidence of this happening.
She says: "Decent IFAs would not dream of doing that but there are some cowboys out there."
Liddell also revealed that firms with a poor record in settling misselling cases may be banned from selling the new stakeholder pension or ISA. She also urged the PIA to force errant companies to advertise their failings in national newspapers.
But Conservative shadow Treasury spokesman Tim Boswell accused Liddell of hype. He says: "Is not her role in this increasingly resembling that of a public relations stunt by a minister herself employed previously in PR by Robert Maxwell, one of the greatest missellers of all?"