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Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined advice firm £2.4m over British Steel Defined Benefit pension transfers

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The FCA has fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited which trades as County Financial Consultants, £2.4m for negligent pension transfer advice given to British Steel pension Scheme (BSPS) members.

The firm had advised over 400 consumers on whether to transfer out of their defined benefit (DB) pensions, with 93% of those consumers being advised to transfer out.

On Friday, the FCA reported that the advice was deemed unsuitable in almost two-thirds of cases. Of those advised to transfer, 268 were British Steel Pension Scheme members.

According to the FCA, Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre produced generic suitability reports that were not tailored to individual customers’ circumstances and contained misleading information. The firm also advised many customers reliant on a guaranteed income in retirement to transfer out of their DB scheme, including cases where income was needed to fund long-term care.

From DB transfers alone the small IFA earned £2.1m in fees between June 2015 and December 2017, the regulator said. 

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre is currently in liquidation, meaning compensation claims are currently being handled by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The industry-funded lifeboat fund had upheld 196 pension transfer claims against the company as of August this year and paid out more than £12.7m in compensation.

In 78 cases the FSCS awarded the claimant the maximum compensation available of £85,000. The FCA said that had it not been for the compensation limit of £85,000, the total compensation payable to customers would have been approximately £14.2m.

The FCA said it will allow other creditors, including potential former client claims, to take precedence over its fine during the liquidation. 

‘Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised hundreds of consumers to give up valuable DB pensions without any adequate justification or rationale, using generic, templated advice not tailored to the specific circumstances of their customers while earning fees in doing so,’ said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA.

‘The quality of advice seen here was woeful. The failings were particularly egregious in the context of the BSPS, where customers were in an unusually vulnerable position. The FCA’s investigation into the involvement of others in these matters remains ongoing.

The regulator currently has 30 ongoing enforcement cases related to BSPS. It said all these cases are now at a ‘very advanced stage’.

If you have been affected by the above or by any investment losses, please contact our team today on 0800 046 9976 or email We’re experts at financial loss claims and have taken on claims rejected by other firms and we’ve been successful. We offer free initial advice so you can understand your options before making any decisions.