Friday, 14 July 2017 10:12

FCA fines compliance officer over 500 DB transfers

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The FCA has fined a compliance oversight officer for pension transfer failings after about 500 customers with pensions worth £12.7million were advised to move from a DB to DC scheme.

David Watters was handed a £75,000 penalty for “failing to exercise due skill, care and diligence” in his role.

In many of the 500 transfer cases, it may have been unnecessary for customers to leave their DB schemes, thereby losing their guaranteed benefits, the FCA said.

Mr Watters was a compliance oversight officer, firstly at FGS McClure Watters and then Lanyon Astor Buller.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight said: “It was Mr Watters’ responsibility to take reasonable steps to put in place a compliant advice process. His failure to do this placed customers at risk of needlessly losing valuable benefits for their retirement.”

The FCA found that Mr Watters “failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the process in place at FGS and LAB, for giving advice on Enhanced Transfer Value pension transfer exercises, was adequate and met regulatory standards”.

This led to a “serious risk of unsuitable advice being given to customers of FGS and LAB about the merits of transferring their pension, from a defined benefit to a defined contribution scheme, as part of an ETV pension transfer exercise”.

The FCA released a statement, which read: “Mr Watters failed to give sufficient consideration to whether the advice process was compliant; he did not take reasonable steps to gain a sufficient understanding of the relevant regulatory requirements; and did not obtain an appropriate third party review of the processes to ensure compliance. Mr Watters also failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that advisers were properly monitored to reduce the risk of unsuitable ETV pension transfer advice being given to customers.

“ETV exercises incentivise customers to transfer their pensions. During these exercises, it is vital that customers considering giving up their guaranteed benefits are given suitable advice on the real benefits and consequences so that they can properly conclude whether a transfer is in their best interests.”

LAB has agreed to contact affected customers and where loss has been caused, it will pay appropriate redress.

Should the FCA intervene to curtail the new pensions freedoms?

Last modified on Friday, 14 July 2017 11:01
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