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March 11, 2024

FCA fines Inspirational Financial Management for ‘poorly advised’ DB pension transfers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Inspirational Financial Management Ltd £897,840, claiming it ‘poorly advised’ people to transfer out of Defined Benefit (DB) pension schemes.

The FCA has also issued bans to an adviser and one of Inspirational Financial Management’s directors.

According to the FCA the firm, which is currently in administration, also advised members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

What action has the FCA taken against Inspirational Financial Management?

The FCA has banned adviser, Arthur Cobill and director William Hofstetter from advising customers on pension transfers and opt outs.

Mr Hoffstetter has also been banned from holding any senior management function at any regulated firm.

Mr Cobill and Mr Hofstetter have agreed to pay £120,000 and £40,000, respectively, to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

This is to contribute towards the compensation for customers of Inspirational Financial Management Ltd.

What did Inspirational Financial Management do wrong?

The FCA says that between 8 June 2015 and 22 December 2017, Inspirational Financial Management provided unsuitable pension transfer advice. And it failed to ‘properly consider’ whether it would be in customers’ best interests to transfer out of their secure Defined Benefit pensions.

The firm operated a contingent charging model which meant it only collected fees if customers transferred out of their DB pension schemes following its advice.

An FCA review revealed that 83% of pension transfer advice given by Inspirational Financial Management ‘failed to comply with its minimum required standards.’

Customers “risked financial loss” as a result of the poor advice they received by the firm.

BSPS members advised by Inspirational Financial Management

Of the 307 customers advised by Inspirational Financial Management to transfer their DB pensions, 261 completed the process.

Mr Cobill apparently advised 245 of those, including 198 members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

According to the regulator’s statement, the pension benefits of BSPS members advised by Mr Cobill was worth over £90 million.

Mr Hofstetter was responsible for the compliance oversight of the firm’s process for pension transfer advice.

FCA’s Joint Executive Director of Enforcement & Market Oversight, Therese Chambers, said:

“Pensions are the safety net people spend their lives building. For many customers, their DB pension was their most valuable asset, and it was their only retirement provision other than their state pension.

“As experienced advisers, Mr Cobill and Mr Hofstetter, and IFM should have known better than to unravel this.  It is only right that Mr Cobill and Mr Hofstetter contribute towards compensating those affected.”

 

The FSCS placed Inspirational Financial Management under investigation in December 2023. It is considering claims against the firm but has yet to issue a declaration of default.

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.