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July 6, 2023

Bans, Fines and Investigations: The latest on Advice firms and the British Steel Pension Scheme

It’s estimated that 369 firms and advisers provided unsuitable advice to British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) members.

That’s according to last year’s parliamentary report investigating the BSPS case, which revealed that at least 47% of the advice provided was ‘found to be unsuitable, causing significant financial detriment.’

The report also criticized the regulatory system for leaving BSPS members ‘…open to being manipulated and taken advantage of by unscrupulous financial advisers who personally profited from giving bad advice.’

Last week the Financial Conduct Authority announced that it had completed its investigation into 30 advice firms in connection to the British Steel Pension Scheme.

The Regulator published an update on the enforcement action it had so far undertaken against firms who were found to have breached rules in relation to giving BSPS members pension advice.

Since the end of June 2023 the FCA has banned three individuals for unsuitable pension advice. Which also included advice to members of BSPS.

Mark Abley of County Capital Wealth Management and Denis Lee Morgan of Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited were both fined and banned from providing pension advice.

Paul Steel of Estate Matters Financial Ltd was banned from working in financial services and told to pay £850k to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS Investigations and failed firms

So far this year, the FSCS has been investigating several advice firms that are also associated with claims regarding the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

In March alone it announced that Wealthmasters Financial Management Ltd, Green Gem Financial Ltd, Portal Financial Services LLP (Portafina LLP), Abbey Lane Financial Associates Ltd and D C Financial Ltd were all under investigation.

It added BlueSky Wealth Management Ltd and Arrow Financial Services UK Ltd (Arrow Asset Management) to its list in April.

And in May confirmed it was investigating Prism Independent Financial Advisers Ltd and Niche Independent Financial Advisers Ltd.

You can check if a firm has been declared in default following investigation on our failed firms page.

 

FSCS failed firms related to BSPS

The FSCS has also declared six advice firms in default since the start of 2023 which it says are also associated with British Steel pension claims.

These are Vintage Investment Services, Broadgate Financial Management, Better Retirement Group Ltd, Bailey Richards Wealth Management Ltd, RSS&L Ltd and FP Consulting Ltd.

A failed firm/declaration of default usually means the FSCS has satisfied there is at least one eligible claim. And that the firm is unlikely or unable to pay compensation.

 

Defined Benefit transfer advice ‘unsuitable within the wider market’

It’s not just members of the BSPS who could’ve been given unsuitable advice to transfer out of defined benefit pensions.

According to the report, FCA data found that 17% of Defined Benefit transfer advice was unsuitable within the wider market.

It added: ‘Based on the level of unsuitability found, thousands more consumers are likely to have been mis-sold DB pension transfer advice from 2015–2021 and are due compensation.’

If you have concerns over the advice you received to transfer your defined benefit pension – don’t delay in checking. There are time limits that apply to making a claim.

If you need some help – call or arrange a chat with one of our team who can tell you if you may have a case- no obligation to use our service.

Important Information!

You are not required to use our services to pursue your claim. You can also seek further advice or shop around subject to any time limits within which a claim must be made.

It is possible for you to present the claim for free, either to the firm or person against whom you wish to complain or to the statutory ombudsman (Financial Ombudsman Service or Pension Ombudsman Service) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, whichever is applicable to your claim.