FCA DB transfer questionnaires due this month

Questionnaires relating to DB transfer activity will be sent to all firms holding the pension transfer permission this month, the FCA has confirmed. Hannah Godfrey reports...

Questionnaires relating to defined benefit (DB) transfer activity will be sent to all firms holding the pension transfer permission this month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed.

The FCA told Professional Adviser it would be sending the questionnaires out sometime during August but declined to give any additional information.

Back in January, a letter from FCA executive director of supervision Megan Butler to Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field first revealed the regulator’s plans to collect data from all firms that hold pension transfer permissions.

The FCA’s latest probe into DB transfer activity marks phase four of its multi-firm supervision exercise, which has been ongoing since October 2015. As part of the exercise, the FCA reviews firms’ practices and, where it finds problems, works with firms to tackle the issue.

The probe has been a far reaching exercise that has resulted in various firms changing their regulatory permissions.

Early in the exercise, the regulator deemed fewer than half (47%) of DB transfer it reviewed – where the recommendation was to transfer – to be suitable, after it reviewed 88 transfer files.

A couple of months later, a freedom of information request by Professional Adviser revealed the regulator had looked into 92 firms as part of the exercise so far.

Controversially, Active Wealth UK, the advice firm at the heart of the British Steel saga, had been on the FCA’s radar since 2016 for its pension transfer activity but had been allowed to continue operating in the area. Active Wealth has since entered liquidation and claims have been made against it through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

In February, Professional Adviser revealed 45 advice firms had been sent a questionnaire on DB transfer practices that contained more than 50 questions.

The eight-page document asked firms to answer each question considering all transfers they have undertaken from the introduction of pension freedom on 6 April 2015 to 30 November 2017.