The director of an advice firm at the centre of the British Steel pension transfer controversy has been rebuked by MPs because he did not attend a scheduled hearing today.
Active Wealth (UK) Darren Reynolds was one of a number of witnesses called to appear before MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee today as part of an inquiry into pension freedoms.
He did not appear this morning though. Clive Howells, managing director of Celtic Wealth Management, an unregulated introducer firm that passed clients to Reynolds, also chose not to appear.
Frank Field, chairman of the committee, said the committee would now put 'further questions to them in writing. If their answers are not satisfactory, we may require them to come in'.
New Model Adviser® revealed the role of Active Wealth (UK) in November, when the firm applied to the regulator to cancel its permission to give defined benefit (DB) pension transfer advice.
National media outlets, most recently Channel Four News, have since reported about concerns that the closure of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) is leading some people to receive unsuitable transfer advice.
Reynolds did not appear in person in Channel Four's coverage, but he was quoted as saying said the attention he has received was 'unfair' and rejected claims that he suggested risky investments.
Field said he was 'suprised' that Reynolds and Howells did not take the chance 'to put their side of the story in a public forum'.
He added: 'No doubt it is more of a loss to them than it is to parliamentary process.'
A note on the FCA register entry for Active Wealth (UK) Ltd said the firm will 'immediately cease accepting any new retail clients in respect of its pension business for which the Firm has part 4A permissions'.
In addition, the firm will not offer pension advice to existing clients unless that advice is signed off by an independent third-party.
Concerns have been raised nationwide about advice being given to British Steel Pension Scheme members to transfer out of the scheme, with the deadline for those with existing transfer values recently extended to 26 January 2018.