In response to concerns about the financial advice BSPS members were receiving, the FCA held four seminars in Swansea and Doncaster for advisers who specialise in pension transfers. 151 advisers attended these seminars, in which the FCA set out the standards it expects when pension transfer advice is given to consumers and the responsibilities firms have when dealing with unregulated introducers. The FCA also wrote to 148 authorised financial advisers in these locations explaining its expectations when advisers refer their clients to pension specialists.
The FCA has undertaken a significant information gathering exercise in order to identify which firms have been most active in advising consumers to transfer out of the BSPS. This included gathering information from 50 financial advice firms, 12 SIPP operators, and the BSPS scheme administrators. Based on the data received the FCA has visited seven advice firms and requested files from a further four advice firms. As a result of this work three firms have stopped advising consumers on pension transfers. The FCA plans to visit a further six firms this week.
This work has been co-ordinated with The Pensions Regulator and The Pensions Advisory Service, which has set up a dedicated helpline for BSPS members (020 7932 9522).
The FCA reissued its alert to consumers about how to protect their pension pot. People are being urged to be aware of potential scams and visit the FCA’s ScamSmart website to check for details of how to avoid putting their money at risk.
The FCA will continue its previously planned work on DB transfer advice in the wider market. Last week the FCA sent out a questionnaire to 45 firms as part of the next phase of this work.
The FCA will also continue to keep the BSPS situation under review and further visits may take place.
The FCA welcomes any information which will help its work in this area. The whistle-blower helpline number is 020 7066 9200.
Defined Benefit transfers
The number of consumers transferring from their defined benefit (DB) schemes to personal pensions has significantly grown over the last few years.
As a result of this growth the financial advice on pensions transfers has been a key focus for the FCA. In October this year the FCA published an update on its work in this area.
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