British Steel Pension advice firm enters liquidation

Nearly half of British Steel Pension Transfers were unsuitable

Bartholomew Hawkins Ltd collapses three years after it agreed with the FCA to cease pension transfer advice.

Bartholomew Hawkins Ltd, a firm that advised members of the British Steel Pension Scheme, has gone into liquidation.

Notices on the FCA register show that the Cardiff-based financial advice firm entered liquidation on 23rd October. New Model Adviser have also reported that director, Richard Lord, no longer works at the business.

The news comes three years after Bartholomew Hawkins stopped offering defined benefit transfer advice and suspended its permissions. The firm had advised members of the British Steel Pension Scheme to transfer out of their pension – a move which has caused uproar ever since.

Director at the time, Richard Lord, stated the business voluntarily took the decision to stop providing advice in relation to DB pension transfers after a visit from the FCA but that it expected the measure to be ‘temporary’. The firm never reinstated its pension transfer permissions.


What happened with British Steelworkers’ pensions?

The 7,700 steelworkers that transferred out of their British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) have been encouraged by the FCA to lodge a claim against their financial advisers.

Earlier this year the financial watchdog found that nearly half of the BSPS pension transfers in 2017 were unsuitable. This was part of a market-wide study into the suitability of defined benefit (DB) pension transfer advice, with the FCA looking at 192 cases of transfers out of the BSPS.

The FCA found that 47% of cases were unsuitable for transfer.

Issues first began to emerge in 2016 when British Steel owner Tata was looking to sell the business. The pensions scheme had to be separated from the business due to its large deficit. The Government and the Pensions Regulator allowed the formation of “BSPS 2” which would offer members lower annual increase to their pensions.

Members were only given until the end of 2017 to decide whether they wanted to switch to BSPS 2, move to the Pensions Protection Fund, or transfer out of the scheme. Many members decided to transfer out of the defined benefit scheme after receiving independent financial advice.

Unions at the time, however, were very concerned that financial advisers were offering unsuitable advice and targeting the steelworkers.

In October 2018, Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, a place where many constituents where embroiled in the ongoing scandal, said:

We have a system of pensions and financial regulations that fails to protect hard-working people. The chancellor needs to put this right and to get on the side of the working people.

We also need stricter penalties, better information and far tighter oversight.

Figures around the same time showed that the FSCS had paid out £40m in compensation relating to poor defined benefit pension transfer advice, up from £20m in 2016. Smith added:

Many people – including my constituents – ended up losing thousands of pounds of hard-earned money because of poor advice they were given.


How can Smooth Commercial Law help?

Have you been mis-sold a pension or investment product? Have you been wrongly advised to transfer out of your defined benefit pension scheme? Smooth Commercial Law may be able to help you claim compensation. 

At Smooth Commercial Law, our team of experts have experience in dealing with a whole manner of claims that arise from negligent, fraudulent and/or unsuitable financial advice, including unsuitable transfers from pensions. We are seeing an increase in claims for mis-sold pensions and unsuitable investments, and have managed to secure compensation for many of our clients.

Should you have a claim for negligent financial advice, we can deal with your case and look to recover compensation for not just your loss of investment but also any adverse tax liabilities that you may now be facing as well.

You can contact our experienced team by calling *ruler number* or by emailing

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.