Time has told for Tideway


So – over three years after writing that Tideway’s activities in the DB transfer market should be stopped, Tideway’s activities in the DB market have been stopped.

A note on the FCA’s register says that, as of 3 July, Tideway must ‘immediately cease’ all work pertaining to the conversion or transfer of pension benefits and its business pipeline.

‘Effective from 3 July 2020, the firm must immediately cease advising on the conversion or transfer of pension benefits and completing pipeline business in relation to the conversion or transfer of pension benefits,’

Tideway now cannot either dispose of or diminish the value of any of the assets it manages, or sell any part of its client base without prior consent of the regulator.

How bullies deal with criticism

When I wrote my first article on Tideway, James Baxter, one of its principals wrote to my employers – First Actuarial , suggesting I be fired. For the sake of First Actuarial , I agreed to take the article down.  You can see what remains here.

I had hoped that Tideway would attend the Great British Transfer Debate organised by Al Rush the following month (June 2017). Tideway were a no show.

In a spirit or reconciliation, I gave James Baxter space on my blog to put forward his arguments. That blog can be accessed from Al Cunningham’s tweet. The conversation was not resumed and it took Al Cunningham to remind me of the incident.

Time has told

In the intervening  three years, Tideway has continued to sell DB transfers  using contingent charging.

Tideway 7

Taken from disclosures May 2017

We do not know why the FCA has stopped it selling transfer advice and we don’t know why it has stopped it selling on its assets under advice (though we do know that a large amount of those assets result from their advice on transfers).

tideway 1

From 2017 marketing literature

Back in June 2017, the regulator visited the business as part of its ongoing compliance work in the DB transfer advice market, though no action was taken.

Tideway 2

This was the situation at that time (from Tideway)

The basis for advice was primarily to maximise the tax advantages to clients

Tideway 4

While Port Talbot was alive with financial advisers Tideway became a high-profile exponent of what became known as “factory gating”.

tideway lbg

In October that year (2017), New Model Adviser revealed that Tideway had been hosting free pension transfer seminars near EDF Energy’s nuclear power plants, a practice criticised by the Prospect workers union.

At the time, Tideway’s then-managing partner James Baxter defended the business’s conduct to the chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field. He also offered the MP conversations with Tideway’s clients.

‘We would be more than delighted if you would like to talk to any of these members to hear their story and the professional way they have been dealt with by Tideway,’ he said.

It seems that Tideway’s approach succeeded not just with the FCA but the WPSC. Tideway’s professionalism is not in doubt. What is in doubt is whether the outcomes for those advised will be better than had they stayed in their DB plans.

Time for contrition?

Tideway tried to get me fired and  failed.

Three years later the FCA have taken action against Tideway’s DB advisory business. But as so often happens in these cases, the advice has been given and  the transfers done.

I don’t need to talk with Tideway , but it sounds like some of Tideway’s clients do.


Addendum –

Mark Meldon in comments wants to know where those advised ended up invested. This is information that Tideway were supplying in May 2017.

Tideway 3


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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7 Responses to Time has told for Tideway

  1. Mark Meldon says:

    Well done, Henry! What worries me is as to where these CETVs ended up – some kind of whizzy DFM arrangement?

    It seems that there are tens of thousands of people in SIPP arrangements linked to IFA DFM portfolios and, whilst I’m sure that many of these offer value and a sensible approach, many may well not. I have just advised a couple to move from anxiety-inducing SIPP arrangements (no DFM involved) to an insured arrangement that will charge them 0.35% on their £2.5m, rather than the 2.76% a DFM they approached would have charged. That seems very good value to me. I did not charge them a % fee, but my fee on that basis worked out to 0.2%, which they felt was rather better than the 1.36% (£34,000) the DFM wanted to take over the SIPP.

    Whilst it is true that few people would transfer from a DB scheme just to buy an annuity (although I can imagine scenarios where that might happen), I find it interesting to note that recent enquiries (mostly pre-Covid volatility) have been from people reconsidering the annuity market. We know the problems with drawdown – more anxiety – compared with DB and annuity security, but I do fear for the future solvency of the whole DB concept right now.

    • henry tapper says:

      I do not have recent information but three years ago Tideway were publishing “where it all went”. I have put the table they produced then at the bottom of the blog. We should be mindful of the value that people can get for their money from workplace pensions.

  2. John Mather says:

    Mark Will you share the name and contact details of the provider giving 0.35%

    • Mark Meldon says:

      Royal London. The basic management charge for their Pension Portfolio Plan is 1%. Discounts off this are then given; over £673,000 the discount is 0.65% to give a management fee of 0.35%. There can be additional investment charges for externally managed funds, but I rarely use these, being very content with RL’s Governed Portfolio approach for most clients (or Lifestyling options, where appropriate).

      I also like RL’s Profit Share. The firm aims to add between 0.15% and 0.25% of the value of a plan to the fund each year as, being a mutual, profits are partly distributed.

      The clients I mentioned were impressed that they could speak to one of RL’s actuaries via the web about exactly how the Governed Portfolios worked.

      I have no connection with RL, except as a happy adviser; first-class administration and excellent ESG credentials, too.


  3. Mark Meldon says:

    It’s not true about dreadful performance from RL; check out the ESG funds and you can alway index!

    • Eugen N says:

      Mark, Royal London has not got its act together with regards to ESG. They are a lot of talk, but nothing serious really. They have three little sustainable funds, worth less than £200 million in total, which is less than 0.50% of the assets under management. So much for saving the planet!

      They own huge amounts of HSBC, Rio Tinto, BP, or Royal Dutch Shell stock.

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