‘Outpouring’ of adviser support to help British Steel pension ‘fiasco’

Hannah Godfrey finds out more...

British steelworkers have seen an “outpouring” of support from the adviser community offering assistance on a pro-bono basis as they decide whether or not to transfer out of their defined benefit (DB) pensions.

Echelon Wealthcare managing director Alistair Rush, who has been heavily involved in helping the steelworkers, set up Operation CHIVE, to take place next week on 11 and 12 December.

CHIVE – short for ‘Counselling, Help, Information, Volunteer Exchange’ – will see advisers and other members of the financial services community give pro bono guidance to those affected by the collapse of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

British steelworkers have until 22 December to decide whether to move their DB pension pots into a new plan that is being created, or stay in the current fund, which will be moved into the Pension Protection Fund.

CHIVE will offer guidance in Port Talbot, Corby, Shotton, Scunthorpe and Llanwern, each of which has a British Steel site. Rush said the operation needed commitment from at least 72 people, and possible as many as 138 in order to help those affected by the scheme “fiasco”.

There have been instances of some advisers being drawn to this issue by the sheer number of steelworkers potentially looking to transfer.

In a blog post, Rush urged advisers to get involved and help out: “I’d love as many people as possible to get involved. If I still can’t find a place for you, I apologise. There will be more opportunities though, so please don’t be disheartened or offended.”

Since his post on Saturday, Rush has received what he called an outpouring of support from the advice community, including:

55 and counting

Rush told Professional Adviser he had received emails from some 55 advisers so far offering their services. He said he was happy with the response so far because this is an issue close to his heart.

“I’m ex-forces, this is my home town and these people – although not clients – I feel a have a sense of responsibility towards them,” said Rush.

“This is nothing in isolation – it is the first of many schemes that will face these sorts of problems, and we will be getting clients left, right and centre wanting to know how to transfer out, and wanting to know something about it. That is why it’s important.”

Niche IFA director and chartered financial planner Ray Adams, who has helped steelworkers with Rush in Port Talbot, added: “For me as an adviser in South Wales, I feel as though [the collapse of the BSPS pension scheme] is ripping the whole adviser community apart as well as the steelworkers.

“I’d like to think we’re the good guys – but you only need a couple of unscrupulous advisers to really rip the confidence out of the advice industry, and that’s incredibly sad.”