The Financial Conduct Authority's drop in sessions have been received with mixed feelings by steelworkers, with some showing no interest while others claimed they were unable to book a place.
FTAdviser has learned that slots offered by the regulators and its partners in Wales last week were not fully taken up, as some steelworkers felt it was “too little, too late”, but others complained sessions were booked too quickly which meant they had to miss out.
Some others still complained they were not offered access to sessions outside of their working hours, which revolve around shift patterns.
Last week, the FCA spent three days (28-30 September) in Swansea to meet steelworkers who could be due compensation after receiving unsuitable advice to transfer out of their pension scheme.
The City watchdog was joined by the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and MoneyHelper to hold one-to-one sessions.
Across the three days, the event had a total of 138 confirmations of attendance, with 128 slots being taken up - a 93 per cent attendance rate.
The FCA had 56 slots available, of which 50 were taken, while the FOS had 60 slots which 57 people showed up for.
The FSCS saw 39 people turn up to 60 available sessions and MoneyHelper made 44 sessions available of which 35 were taken up.
Some steelworkers attended more than one session.
Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said the regulator could only meet with a certain number of people at the event.
He also pointed out it was not the first time the City watchdog had visited steelworkers, with the last time being in 2019, but said it had not been able to run any more events in the meantime due to the Covid pandemic.
Mills said: “In terms of the numbers, we extended the number of slots that we had to meet demand. So we were at 140 on this visit. And it's important to note that trying to get beyond that number in a single event might be challenging logistically, but also in terms of the amount of time that you have to speak to each steelworker.”
He said the FCA had tried to ensure that the location it chose was “as near as possible” to the communities affected and it had tried to be flexible on timings to work around people’s shift patterns.
“Of course we will learn from this event. We have taken people’s names who have been unable to see us and for future events, we'll reach out to them to try and be as flexible as possible so that they can attend,” Mills said.
“We’re committed at the FCA to run future events in South Wales and in Scunthorpe and we'll be setting them up shortly after this event.”
Speaking to FTAdviser during the eve
nts last week, the Financial Conduct Authority said it was reviewing whether it produces a redress scheme for members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.
Mills said “whether or not we undertake a redress scheme is under review and analysis”, adding the regulator had to analyse and see “whether or not a legal test for a redress scheme [is] met”.
It comes after board meetings for 21 and 22 July, published earlier this month (September 7), showed the board had decided against a consumer redress scheme for the time being saying it didn't have "sufficient information" but the matter was still under review.
Latest figures from the FSCS showed it has paid out £21.5m in total so far to members of BSPS who were wrongly advised to transfer their defined benefit pensions.
The lifeboat scheme told FTAdviser it had made 482 decisions, including decision rejecting the claim, with an uphold rate of 88 per cent.
The average compensation has been £50,000 but the overall compensation amount could be set to grow significantly as the FSCS still has 135 claims in progress.
The BSPS case
Three years ago British Steel Pension Scheme members were asked to decide whether to move their DB pension to a new plan, BSPS2, or stay in the existing fund, which was then moved to the PPF as part of a restructuring of pension liabilities, or to transfer out altogether.
As a result about 8,000 members transferred out of the old scheme, with transfers collectively worth about £2.8bn.
But concerns about the suitability of the transfers were soon raised, leading to intervention from the FCA that resulted in a number of advice firms – key players in the debacle – stopping their transfer advice service, while others went out of business.
A subsequent suitability review led to almost two-thirds of DB advisers quitting the market, with the FCA saying there are now about 1,200 advisers holding these permissions compared with 3,000 in 2018.
NOTE: We claim no right or title to this article which appears in FT Adviser dot com. Author. Amy Austin
If you are a British Steel worker and feel you have been mis-sold your pension contact Claimline Legal now on 0800 779 7457 or go to our website www.claimlinelegal.co.uk/britishsteel