The FCA has published an interesting blog entitled Our work on DB transfers. The nub of its findings follow
Since October 2015 we have reviewed a total of 88 DB transfers where the recommendation was to transfer. Out of these, we found that:
- 47% were suitable
- 17% were unsuitable
- 36% where it was unclear if the recommendation was suitable
We also considered the suitability of the recommended product and fund and found that:
- 35% were suitable
- 24% were unsuitable
- 40% were unclear
The proportion of suitable cases was much lower than we found in the wider advisory market for pensions advice, e.g. our Assessing Suitability Review found that 90% of pensions accumulation advice, and 91% of retirement income advice, was suitable.
This is not a surprise to me, I read the stuff that comes to me from advisers and I’m shocked.
This is rotten advice. In the summer, I had cause to censure Tideway for similar rubbish. Tideway threatened to sue me for defamation, then they asked for help which my firm offered, the offer has not been taken up and here they are talking absolute drivel to the Telegraph readers.
Tideway are a vertically integrated adviser who makes money from the investment of the proceeds of the transferred money. The fees payable for advice are contingent on the money being invested in products on which Tideway takes a management fee. The potential conflicts of interest are immense. We expect the highest integrity from such firms and this half-baked clap-trap is deeply worrying.
If you are worried about that!
I am now getting a stream of educational material from Sam Instone of AES International. Sam is keen to keep me on the right side of the financial thugs who rip off people like me when we choose to expatriate our pension savings to offshore financial havens.
Sam has a whole library of anti-scamming manuals you can access here. You should trust him, as he tells us we can.
Sam Instone, CEO at AES International, is passionate about positive change and ensuring expat investors get the best results
For AES International, the question is not whether to transfer (that’s assumed) but how to avoid being ripped off once you get your money offshore.
One would be forgiven for asking just what is wrong with leaving the money to be paid from a UK occupational pension. I wonder what the FCA makes of all this.
Actually, who needs regulators when we’ve got AES International cleaning up?
There is something not quite right about Sam or AES International, for all his fine talk, the brilliant PR and the endorsements from the Economist and even (for a while) the evidenced based investor Robin Powell.
AES International , Sam’s firm was once a front for Premier Pension Solutions, the firm of Stephen Ward. Together, Stephen and Sam managed the victims of the ARK Pension Fraud into financial ruin. The Times ran the story in 2014, If you haven’t a subscription , you can read it here. Sam claims there is no link
“We had nothing to do with the Ark scheme and we earned a negligible amount from our tied agency with PPS. We have no legal responsibility for what has occurred here.”
But I am not so sure. Investigative work by Angie Brooks, published on her website, suggests that the links between the two firms were pretty strong!
Stephen Ward is another model citizen. Stephen actually wrote the G60 book that those of us who studied to be transfer experts in the 1990s. Today, you can still hire him to speak! I wonder if he talks about the fate of those people to invest in ARK.
And then there’s lead generation!
Ever wondered how people end up on those cold calling lists? Well look no further than www.pension-services.com which just sits there waiting for people to google “can I cash in my pension at 35?”. This site has been reported more times than I was at school! But it still sits up on the web with a whole range of advice for the most vulnerable.
The FCA have a lot of work to do
There is a lot of clap-trap being spoken about pension transfers. If it was no more than clap-trap, there would be little cause to worry. But this clap-trap translates into people taking life-changing financial decisions.
One defining moment of my year was the meeting I had with Lesley Titcomb and the victims of the ARK pension fraud. The subsequent private meetings and the little time I spent in the Royal Court have left an indelible mark on me.
We cannot take risks with people’s retirement savings as we are allowing risk to be taken today. The statistics quoted by the FCA, the appalling nonsense coming from Tideway and the lurking presence of notorious scammers such as Stephen Ward point in the same direction. The general public cannot trust financial advice so long as these are the standards some of them present.
Another defining moment was the congregation of nearly 300 IFAs in a shed outside of Peterborough – all investing a day of their time to get better at transfer advice.
I’m into raising standards and I loved the Great Pensions Debate. I despise poor quality advice and detest scamming. We should be very worried about the evidence that the FCA are digging up – even if it is from only 88 cases. It is critical that those who are in the process of transferring benefits from defined benefit schemes , really scrutinise the advice they are getting as clearly – it is not all great!