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November 6, 2023

FCA bans Adviser for ‘failures’ in British Steel pension advice

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned Geoffrey Armin for “failures in advice” given to members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.

Mr Armin has been banned from advising customers on pension transfers and opt-outs, as well as from holding any senior management function in a regulated firm.

He has also been ordered to pay £200k to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This is to contribute towards the redress due to his customers, including members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

Geoffrey Armin – Retirement and Pension Planning Services Limited

According to the Regulator, while running Retirement and Pension Planning Services Limited, Mr Armin was “seriously incompetent’ when advising on Defined Benefit Pensions transfers.

The FCA said Mr Armin had advised 422 customers on the transfer of their Defined Benefit (DB) pensions, of which 183 were members of BSPS. Following his recommendation 174 BSPS members transferred out of the scheme.

The total amount in fees for all DB transfer advice added up to £2.2m with approximately £1.2m retained by Retirement and Pension Planning Services and Mr Armin.

Retirement and Pension Planning Services Limited has since been dissolved.

Advice ‘Eroded the trust between advisers and clients’

The FCA have said that in advising his customers, Geoffrey Armin “routinely failed” to obtain the necessary information needed to assess the suitability of a pension transfer and as a result provided unsuitable advice.

It added that in some cases customers were only informed of the consequences of transferring, such as giving up valuable guaranteed benefits offered by their DB pension, after they’d already transferred out of the scheme.

Therese Chambers, joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said: “Mr Armin gave bad advice and pocketed large fees for doing so. People rely on the advice they’re given for financial security into old age. Mr Armin’s advice not only put at risk the pensions people had worked for, it also eroded the trust between advisers and clients. Such callous incompetence has no place in financial services.”

Mr Armin referred the FCA’s decision to the Upper Tribunal, however, on 6 September 2023 he agreed to pay a substantial proportion of his assets to the FSCS as compensation and withdrew the referral.

To date, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has paid out just over £3.9m in compensation to Mr Armin’s customers.

Important Information!

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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.