The FCA is quite right to be worried about DB transfers.

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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.

Tideway Investments have been delivering nonsense to the Daily Telegraph

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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.

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James Baxter



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.

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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.

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Sam Instone

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


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 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.

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“No” is slightly shorter than “yes”


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!

sam instone


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in accountants, Middle East, pensions, QROPS and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The FCA is quite right to be worried about DB transfers.

  1. Adrian Boulding says:

    A lot of people seem to be deciding to transfer DB to DC because of the superior tax free cash or death benefits that they can get this way.
    But that could be like choosing a restaurant because it offers nice starters or yummy puddings without bothering to see if the main courses are any good!


  2. John Mather says:

    Advisers bashing again Henry? As an actuary I am surprised that you think 66 cases out of 60,000 statistically significant

    Maybe more significant might be the “mortality” of the host company often deemed immortal by those with a vested interest in promoting DB

  3. henry tapper says:

    John, I am bashing bad advice and promoting good advice (see my comments about the Great Pension Transfer Debate. The sample is small but significant and I am not an actuary!

  4. Mike Lacey says:

    The worry is that the public will possibly view all advice to transfer as tainted. We both know there are some sound reasons to consider a move from a DB scheme. Stiffer sanctions for fraud in particular would be welcome.

  5. henry tapper says:

    We cannot rely on the Regulators – we need to apply and improve standards and be prepared to stand up for what we think is good practice. I’m not too worried about the reputation of good ifas, they get their work from referral and fish in a rich pond. I am very worried about those who use poor IFAs or use advisers who offset their fees against product charges.

  6. Rich Caddy says:

    Currently stuck in the BSPS fiasco with an option to transfer. I can choose an IFA based on the qualifications given through the FCA register, but cannot verify the advice. The food standards agency run random checks on food outlets and rate them accordingly, why cant the FCA adopt this principal?

  7. henry tapper says:

    I feel for you Rich Caddy, I understand there is a BSPS helpline paid for by the Trustees, is this a help?

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