Darren Reynolds and his firm Active Wealth have been restrained by the FCA from carrying out pension transfer business for the foreseeable future.
Active Wealth’s business plan was to take leads generated by Celtic Wealth through promotions such as the notorious “chicken in a basket” suppers in Port Talbot.
Celtic Wealth is owned by Clive Howells, the same Clive Howells as was behind Bespoke Pension Services . This was the firm behind Mrs Hughes’ liberation of her pension from the Royal London Staff Scheme.
— Al Rush (@RAF_IFA) November 28, 2017
For those who don’t follow such things, Justice Morgan allowed Mrs Hughes to transfer out of her occupational pension scheme into another occupational pension , even though she had no connection with the sponsor of the new scheme.
Royal London had fought the transfer on the basis that it was a scam and that allowing it would encourage similar scams.
I am not saying that Bespoke Pension Services are scammers but on the back of their victory in the case of Ms. Hughes, there are a further 160 blocked pension transfers sitting with the Pensions Ombudsman. We have no way of knowing whether they will all be pension transfers invested in Cape Verde assets, but we do know the Hughes case must have been very important to Bespoke Pension Services’ business.
Interestingly, Bespoke Pension Services are unregulated and their address is a virtual office. According to their latest published accounts the firm was insolvent in 2014. The two directors/shareholders – Mark Anthony Miserotti and Clive John Howells – have between them an impressive portfolio of investment, consultancy, property development, investment and financial planning companies – one of which is called “Fortaleza Investments” which suggests something Brazilian
This is the conclusion that the Pension Ombudsman came to after reading
In particular, it (the Hughes judgement) provides instruction to trustees and administrators that, assuming the other requirements for a statutory transfer right are made out, members do not need to be in receipt of earnings from an employer sponsoring the occupational pension scheme to which they wish to transfer their pension. Earnings from another source are sufficient.
It seems likely that most transferring members will meet this requirement so, beyond verification of earnings and the provision of risk warnings, trustees and administrators will be conscious that under current legislation they cannot refuse such a transfer – even if they have significant concerns that it may be for the purposes of pension liberation.
So it came to pass
I am sure that Clive Howells, in his new guise as boss of Celtic Wealth, could not believe his luck when the British Steel Pension Scheme members were given a limited time to choose. With entrepreneurial zeal , he has provided Reynolds with leads on an industrial scale as documented in FT Adviser.
Back in 2014 asked these questions of Clive Howells
What qualifications do your team have for pensions and investment advice? Why was your firm still trading while, according to Companies House records, the company was insolvent in 2014? Did your firm pay off the £101k owed to creditors in 2014?
If we had answers from Clive Howells on these questions, I suspect we would not be reading of Celtic Wealth , nor Darren Reynolds , nor the mess that will now have to be unravelled by Trustees who surely must question the integrity of the advice behind any transfer request that has come through this sales channel.
Thanks to Al Rush
As I write, Al is once again dashing down the M4 to Wales, this time with an intrepid journalist beside him. Al is the hero of the piece. He is responsible for stopping Reynolds in his tracks and I hope Celtic Wealth from greasing the wheels of other associates looking to by-pass proper process.
The story of Hughes v Royal London is a salutary lesson. It turns out not just to be a test case for pension liberation, but a confidence boost for Clive Howells and others intent on providing fuel to this fire.
The pronouncements of Antony Arter, the Pensions Ombudsman who ruled in favour of Mrs Hughes, turned out to be a judgement in favour of Bespoke Pension Services and its offspring Celtic Wealth.
No thanks to the British legal system
Thanks to Al Rush but no thanks to the British Legal system which has singularly failed to act in anyone’s interests but the scammers.
The courts are the scammers friends and the only action that matters now is more prevention by the FCA.
One for the people who don’t report malpractice thinking the FCA won’t take any action https://t.co/j4vbZXJtzT
— Rory Percival (@rorypercival) November 28, 2017
It was Angie Brooks who asked the questions and nobody followed up. Thankfully Al has asked the question and somebody is following up. If you see malpractice , you should report it to Action Fraud, the FCA and tPR and you should follow up.
If we leave things to the British legal system, the likes of Clive Howells will still be digging out leads in another five years.
The next Pension Play Pen lunch is on Monday (Dec 4th). We will be discussing Bob Ward’s question “are trustees doing enough to stop bad outcomes from DB transfers?”
If you have read this article and want to come , then you are most welcome. We meet at 12 for 12.30 at http://www.the-counting-house.com – near Bank . The meeting is free and we share the cost of the food and drink which is typically £15. We wrap up around 1.45 and everyone is away by 2pm.