FCA stops former British Steel pension adviser from disposing of assets

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stopped a former adviser on British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) transfers, AJH Financial Services, from disposing of assets without FCA permission.

The decision was made in light of the FCA's concerns that AJH does not have sufficient financial resources to pay potential redress claims and appears to have paid out dividends, rather than retain assets.

In light of this, the FCA confirmed that it has stopped AJH Financial Services from disposing of assets without its permission, although AJH has the right to refer the decision for review by the Upper Tribunal.

Firms who advised on the BSPS were previously told not to dispose of any assets and to maintain adequate financial resources in a Dear CEO letter from the FCA, in light of the regulator's plans to consult on a redress scheme for former members of the BSPS in March 2022.

The FCA has now again emphasised that it will act to prevent firms from disposing of assets that are required to pay redress, and look to impose requirements where firms have not acted in accordance with the expectations previously outlined.

“We will continue to monitor firms who have advised on BSPS transfers and take action where necessary,” it stated.

The FCA previously faced scrutiny over its handling of the BSPS scandal, with both regulators and MPs calling for action, particularly after research from the FCA revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of the advice given to former BSPS members was unsuitable.

Labour MP, Nick Smith, also recently wrote to the FCA, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) regarding the role of introducers in the British Steel pension scandal, raising concerns about the regulation of these introducers.

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