Adviser Mark Abley pays £106k for poor pension transfer advice

The FCA has banned Mark Abley of County Capital Wealth Management Ltd (in liquidation) (CCWM) from providing any advice on pension transfers.

Mr Abley will also pay £106,100 to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) rather than the FCA, to contribute towards the redress owed to CCWM’s customers. If he fails to pay this amount or any part of it, the FCA will enforce this amount as a fine.

Between April 2015 and February 2018, CCWM advised 575 people to transfer out of their defined benefit pension schemes – including almost 150 members of the British Steel Pension Scheme. Mr Abley was responsible for this advice, over half of which (56%) failed to meet the required standards and showed a lack of competence. He received a financial benefit of at least £60,000 for providing this advice.

Mr Abley did not obtain the information needed to make a suitable recommendation or properly assess whether the customer could understand and bear the financial risks of transferring their guaranteed pension. He failed to provide evidence to show that the transfers were in his customers’ best interest. There were also errors in the calculations used to compare customers’ existing pension schemes with the schemes it was proposed they transfer into.

Therese Chambers, joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said:

‘Mr Abley’s incompetence meant that he failed to give customers the advice they needed to make a significant decision about their retirement. This included hundreds of people who were dealing with the uncertainty around the British Steel Pension Scheme. He earned fees while putting their retirement money at risk. It is only right that he contributes to the costs of compensating these customers.’

As of 14 March 2023, the FSCS has upheld 53 Pension Transfer claims against CCWM and paid out over £2.1m in compensation to customers of CCWM. Any customers who were advised to transfer should contact the FSCS to see if they are owed redress.

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