FCA issues public censure to firm over pension transfer advice failings

FCA has issued a public censure to Lighthouse Advisory Services Limited following a finding of serious failings in relation to defined benefit pension transfer advice, especially in relation to BSPS. It found several causes for breach by the firm of Principle 9, largely based on the firm advising BSPS employees to transfer into a personal pension when their BSPS pension was going to be their key source of retirement income, and when it was not clear that the objectives for transferring out were appropriate.  The failings lasted from 1 April 2015 to 30 April 2019. FCA had carried out a review in 2017 of a small sample of files which had found no failings, but a larger scale review found that 53% of advice to BSPS members during the relevant period was unsuitable.

The reason for a censure rather than a fine was that Quilter Financial Planning Limited, although it acquired Lighthouse after the unsuitable advice had been given, had taken responsibility for it, co-operated with FCA  and had already paid over £23m in redress to affected Lighthouse customers to put them back in the position they would have been in were it not for the unsuitable advice. Quilter had also replaced the Lighthouse senior management team and its internal processes.

Emma Radmore