Another IFA suspends DB transfers over British Steel

Hannah Godfrey

Country Capital Wealth Management, which trades as The Pension Review Service, has voluntarily suspended its defined benefit (DB) transfer permissions after a visit from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

A note on the FCA register said the firm must “immediately cease all regulated activities relating to pension transfer business” effective from 6 February.

Managing director Mark Abley confirmed to Professional Adviser that, after a visit from the regulator, the firm had volunteered to temporarily suspend its permissions.

“We’ve had a discussion with the FCA, and we disagree on some things and agree on others, he said.

“We’ve only had the high-level feedback, we’ve not actually had feedback on the individual cases yet, but effectively they’re asking us to look at a part of our process – which we were already doing – so it’s fair enough.

“We’re happy to do that, they’ve made it clear to us that it’s going to be on a temporary basis, so we’re all happy,” he added.

The Scunthorpe and London-based firm is the latest in a line of advice businesses to have their pension transfer permissions revoked following the British Steel saga.

Active Wealth, Bartholomew Hawkins, Mansion Park, Pembrokeshire Mortgage, Retirement & Planning Services, Vintage Investment Services and West Wales Financial Services have all agreed to cease defined benefit transfer business.

None of the firms have had their DB permissions restated.

Unsuitable advice

According to the FCA, some 583 steelworkers were given unsuitable pension transfer advice. The financial watchdog has said it will collect data from all advice firms with DB transfer permissions throughout this year.

Abley said it was “fair enough” that the regulator plans to look into all firms involved with DB transfers: “It’s high profile, high-risk business, it’s a big decision for the customer to make, and it’s only right that they ask people to re-look at their processes if they’re not happy with them.”

In December, Abley wrote a blog on The Pension Review Service’s website that suggested some of the reporting around the steelworkers has “bordered on the hysterical” and that some of the firms who have suspended pension transfers faced “trial by social media”.

Abley said he still stands by those comments.