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.
— Alistair Cunningham (@Cunningham_UK) May 29, 2017
Time has told
In the intervening three years, Tideway has continued to sell DB transfers using contingent charging.
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).
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.
The basis for advice was primarily to maximise the tax advantages to clients
While Port Talbot was alive with financial advisers Tideway became a high-profile exponent of what became known as “factory gating”.
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.
Mark Meldon in comments wants to know where those advised ended up invested. This is information that Tideway were supplying in May 2017.