If you've heard the names Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd, or even British Steel pension fund, you might be aware of the ongoing scandal surrounding mis-sold claims. As more details unfold, it's imperative individuals affected, understand the gravity of the situation. At CP Financial Claims, we've been closely monitoring the case and are here to help. This article sheds light on the recent developments and offers a beacon of support to those affected.
The Road to Administration
Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd, which was incorporated on 1 April 2009, have encountered a myriad of challenges during the last few years. On 20 January 2022, the firm made headlines with its announcement of the appointment of an administrator. This was swiftly followed by the release of the administrator's proposal on 25 February 2022, which alluded to the severe nature of the firm's situation. By 19 March 2022, a pivotal meeting with the creditors had been held, which delved into the extent of the ongoing issues.
Then, on 2 August 2022, the administrator provided further insights by releasing a detailed progress report, highlighting the recent developments and the envisaged path forward. In addition to these administrative concerns, the firm faced legal challenges.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has taken enforcement action against this Liverpool-based Independent Financial Advisor. The cause for this action? The firm's apparent failure to provide essential personal pension data to two of its clients, even though they made formal requests in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. This breach has further intensified the firm's troubles, attracting significant scrutiny and concern.
Here's a closer look at how events unfolded:
Both clients approached Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA, seeking "a copy of all documents, of any kind, which relate to me and my pension". But their requests fell on deaf ears, prompting the ICO to intervene.
The ICO's increasing concern was evident as they remarked on the firm's lethargic response. Despite multiple attempts to contact Smith, Law & Shepherds, the ICO often found themselves awaiting calls that never came or expecting responses that were not delivered. By December 9, 2021, neither of the two clients had received their requested data.
It was Markland Hill Wealth, the new owner and acquirer of Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA's client book, who eventually sent out the data on March 7. The administrator from Markland Hill Wealth confirmed this move, while also stating their unawareness of the data issue at the time of acquisition.
But here's the catch: had Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA continued their non-compliance, they could have faced a staggering fine—the highest of either £17.5 million or 4% of their annual turnover.
Two years — that's nearly how long both clients awaited their pension-related data. The waiting period, coupled with delayed action from the ICO, only intensified their distress.
The FCA's Intervention
Further complications arose on 17 Dec 2021 when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) intervened. Effective from this date, the FCA decreed that the firm should refrain from carrying out any regulated activities unless granted prior written consent.
Furthermore, an important note from 18 Mar 2016 marked the firm as an Article 3 MiFID exempt entity, further emphasising its need to adhere to specific financial regulations.
The Appointed Representatives
Interestingly, Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA had its fair share of appointed representatives and agents, namely:
Chambers Wealth Management Ltd
Plutus Partnership Ltd
Both entities now find themselves under scrutiny due to their association with Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA.
British Steel Pension Connection
The saga surrounding Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd finds a significant thread connected to the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). The BSPS, one of the UK’s largest pension funds, became a focal point of controversy when pension transfer advice was sought by many of its members.
Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd was among several advisory firms providing advice to BSPS members on pension transfers. Pension transfers, while lucrative for the advisers due to hefty commissions, can often lead to members being placed in investments that are unsuitable or too risky for their circumstances.
There has been considerable concern in the financial industry about the quality and appropriateness of the advice given to BSPS members by some firms, and whether these individuals were made fully aware of the potential risks and implications of transferring their pensions.
As the situation with Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd unfolds, it remains to be seen how deep the connection goes with the mis-sold claims surrounding the British Steel Pension Scheme. Those associated with the BSPS, who sought advice from Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd or any of its appointed representatives and agents, should be vigilant and consider reviewing their financial arrangements.
The ongoing investigations and revelations serve as a reminder of the need for transparency, diligence, and the utmost care when navigating the intricate world of pension schemes and financial advisories.
Making a Claim:
If you've been keeping up with the news surrounding Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA Ltd, you might be wondering if you're one of the many potentially affected by the firm's recent shortcomings. Fortunately, we're here to guide you through the process of making a claim if you believe you've been impacted.
If Smith, Law & Shepherds IFA or the British Steel pension fund sound familiar, and you suspect you might be affected, don't wait. Reach out to us via the form below, simply enter your details for a free, no-obligation chat with our team.