The FCA has banned and fined a financial adviser almost £1.3m for pension transfer advice failings.
Geoffrey Edward Armin of Retirement and Pension Planning Services (RPPS) has referred the decision to the Upper Tribunal and any outcome is therefore provisional pending the trial.
The FCA decided to fine Armin £1,284,523 and ban him from any senior management role in relation to any regulated activities. He has also been banned from advising consumers on pension transfers and pension opt outs.
The regulator's investigation found that Armin advised 422 customers on the transfer of their defined benefit pensions into alternative pension arrangements, including 183 members of the British Steel Pensions Scheme – 174 of whom transferred out of the scheme following his recommendation.
The FCA says Armin was "seriously incompetent" when advising on defined benefit pension transfers. The Authority found that he failed to obtain the necessary information required to assess the suitability of a pension transfer and also disregarded information including customers’ financial situation, income needs throughout retirement, and how their existing pension benefits compared to the proposed alternative.
In some cases, he only informed customers of the consequences of their decision to forego the valuable guaranteed benefits offered by their defined benefit pension after they had already transferred out of the scheme.
The total value of transfers on which Armin advised was £125m, £74m of which related to the British Steel Pension Scheme. The average transfer value for customers was approximately £298,000.
Armin's firm, RPPS, received £2.2m in fees for all defined benefit pension transfer advice, 55% (approximately £1.2m) of which was retained by RPPS and Armin.
As Armin has contested the decision, the Upper Tribunal will now determine what, if any, is the appropriate action for the FCA to take.