St James's Place (SJP) has defended its engagement with members of the British Airways New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS) regarding pension transfers.
A letter sent on Monday from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to the Work and Pensions Select Committee highlighted a number of concerns from trade unions regarding financial advice firms targeting their members during critical periods for their defined benefit (DB) pension schemes.
The letter cited the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) as reporting that 'during the consultation process for closing BA NAPS DB pension scheme to future accrual, St James's Place IFAs were very active in trying to promote CETVs (although this was not promoted by the employer).
A spokesman for SJP said: 'For a number of years, seminars have been hosted for BA pilots covering a number of pension related topics – for example, issues with tapered and lifetime allowance – and focussing on the value of the BA DB schemes.
'At the seminars it is made absolutely clear that St. James’s Place does not offer independent financial advice, and these are arranged with the knowledge and agreement of all relevant parties.
'We have strict policies in place around marketing and the transfer of pensions and, as is the case for all clients, a DB transfer will only be recommended where it is the right course of action for the client, taking into account their full financial circumstances and needs.
'Due to the complex nature of these transactions, every DB case is fully checked and authorised by a qualified individual before a transfer can go ahead.'
SJP was recently at the centre of a skirmish between IFAs and the Forces' Pension Society after it emerged the advice giant was holding seminars for service personnel, which offered the opportunity to bring friends and partners on a free tour of Longleat House and Gardens.
The firm made a business decision to stop offering advice on the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) amid a burgeoning national scandal over advice being given to steelworkers.
Tideway was also referenced as having proactively contacted workers at EDF Energy and Magnox. New Model Adviser® reported in October 2017 that EDF workers had attended Tideway seminars on DB transfers.
At the time, Tideway head of private client advice James Baxter confirmed that five 'free of charge and with no obligation balanced seminars' had taken place at the request of scheme members, and that 10% of attendees go on to transfer out with Tideway.