Who Do You Think You Are?!
No I am not referencing the show on BBC One or even the late 90’s classic from the Spice Girls. From time to time we have to set out our own position on what we will accept and occasionally we receive this type of unhappy response.
A key theme from the regulator for some time now is that a regulated product provider has a duty of care with regard to the client outcomes within their own product. The FCA regards us as the “gatekeeper” – effectively we decide who we allow through the gate into the world of Curtis Banks SIPPs. This manifests itself in a number of ways, the most common one being the types of investment we will allow, and it can annoy clients (“it’s my SIPP, I’ll invest it where I want”) and advisers (“who do you think you are to question my advice?”). Fortunately we don’t get much of this because we deal with quality advisers and clients who understand where we’re coming from, and we always try to be flexible.
Defined Benefit transfers are one of the checks at the gate, so it would be useful to confirm our stance on this. We have always been cautious about DB transfers, rightly so as it turns out as it was flagged up by the FSA in their road show to SIPP operators at the start of this year. The mood of the meeting was that the starting point for any proposed DB transfer is very much that it is The Wrong Thing To Do and to get beyond that we have to have evidence that it makes sense for a particular client.
What this means in practice is basically that we need to be confident that the client knows what they are doing, and the transfer makes sense. In situations where we have not already agreed advisers’ thorough internal systems, we will be asking that:
- A full TVAS analysis has been obtained and given to the client, in particular showing the critical yields
- Advice has been given to the client on the transfer (this might be advice not to transfer, though that would make us a bit more nervous!)
- We get some reassurance that the client is fully aware of what they are doing – this could be part of what has been provided above
We assess it and reach a decision on whether we will accept it. Other factors will come into play, e.g. the proposed investment strategy for the money.
None of this is us cutting across any advice given, so we are not interfering with the adviser’s role, we can’t give advice. It is simply a case of us deciding whether to open the gate or not – and if it all makes sense then we are going to allow it through. Occasionally it can be annoying, but one benefit for clients and advisers is that it makes it much more likely that we’ll still be around in 5 or 10 years’ time as it is clear that the FCA’s expectations of SIPP providers are only going in one direction.
At least you now know where we are coming from on this, and if you have any proposed transfers we are always happy to chat them through with you.