The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned Geoffrey Armin from advising customers on pension transfers and pension opt outs, and from holding any senior management function in a regulated firm.
The FCA found that Mr Armin, while running Retirement and Pension Planning Services Limited (dissolved), was seriously incompetent when advising on defined benefit (DB) pension transfers. Mr Armin advised 422 customers on the transfer of their DB pensions, including 183 members of the British Steel Pension Scheme – 174 of whom transferred out of the scheme following his recommendation. These fees added up to £2.2m for all DB transfer advice, 55% (approximately £1.2m) of which was retained by Retirement and Pension Planning Services and Mr Armin.
In advising his customers, Mr Armin routinely failed to obtain the necessary information he needed to assess the suitability of a pension transfer and provided unsuitable advice as a result. This is despite FCA guidance stating that as a starting point, it should be assumed that such transfers are not in a customer’s best interests.
In some cases, Mr Armin only informed customers of the consequences of giving up the valuable guaranteed benefits offered by their DB pension after they had already transferred out of the scheme.
Therese Chambers, joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said:
'Mr Armin gave bad advice and pocketed large fees for doing so. People rely on the advice they’re given for financial security into old age. Mr Armin’s advice not only put at risk the pensions people had worked for, it also eroded the trust between advisers and clients. Such callous incompetence has no place in financial services.'
Mr Armin referred the FCA’s decision to take action to the Upper Tribunal and the hearing was due to commence on 11 September 2023. However, on 6 September 2023 he agreed to pay a substantial proportion of his assets to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) as compensation and withdrew the referral. Without this settlement, Mr Armin’s assets would have been spent on the costs of the Upper Tribunal proceedings leaving nothing to pay redress or a fine.
Mr Armin will also pay £200,000 to the FSCS to contribute to redress due to his customers, including members of the British Steel Pension Scheme. To date, the FSCS has paid out £3,961,517 in compensation to Mr Armin’s customers.
Notes to editors
- Final Notice 2023: Geoffrey Edward Armin
- The press release in relation to the decision notice issued to Mr Armin on 20 May 2021.
- British Steel Pension Scheme - our approach to enforcement.
- Information for customers wishing to make a complaint to the FSCS.
- Find out more information about the FCA.