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FCA probes 109 firms connected to British Steel pensions

The Financial Conduct Authority has contacted 109 firms connected to British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) transfers and requested further information from 66 of them, the regulator has confirmed.


The FCA released the figures to “wholly reject” claims by the Work and Pensions Committee that it had been “grossly inadequate” in protecting BSPS pension savers.

FCA slammed

Frank Field, chairman of the committee, said last week: “The [Financial Services Authority] was reformed and renamed amid concerns that it was too close to the financial businesses it was supposed to regulate”.

“From their intervention in this affair, it seems clear that the FCA’s actions still effectively protect these businesses’ ability to make money out of pension funds, rather than protecting pension savers.

“They must take care they are not sleepwalking into yet another huge mis-selling scandal,” Field said.

Claims rejected

In its response, the FCA said it strongly believes it has taken “all the appropriate action we can within our remit on this issue”.

“The FCA’s work on BSPS in particular has been thorough and includes meetings with local advisers, BSPS members, firm visits and reviewing client files.

“To date, the FCA has held meetings in Swansea and Doncaster for advisers who specialise in pension transfer advice which 151 advisers attended,” the regulator said.

Following the FCA intervention, eight firms have decided to stop providing advice on pension transfers.

“As part of this work, the FCA has been working with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), and has written directly to over 12,000 BSPS members. The FCA’s work in relation to BSPS is ongoing.”

Additionally, the FCA said it is currently reviewing rules and guidance for pension transfer advice.

BSPS restructure

In August 2017, Tata Steel, the company responsible for the BSPS, said it could no longer support the scheme and a restructure would take place.

Steelworkers had until 22 December 2017 to decide whether to move their DB pension pot to a new plan, called BSPS II, or remain in the current scheme, which would be moved to the UK Governments pensions lifeboat called the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Several media agencies reported that cheap deals by unregulated firms, dubbed “sharks” and “vultures” by one member of parliament, appeared to be luring several steel workers to transfer out their pensions, forcing the FCA and Work and Pensions Committee to step in and undertake a significant information gathering exercise.

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