Strategic Wealth UK, along with its appointed representative Synergy Wealth, has been ordered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to cease carrying out all pension-related business with immediate effect.

The regulator’s order will remain in force for at least as long as it takes to complete a review of the firm’s practices in the form of an independent skilled persons review, and for that person to confirm that the firm is complying with its obligations.

The firm, based in Shotton, North Wales, is also unable to dispose of, or reduce the value of any of its assets, without the FCA’s approval.

A note on the firm’s entry on the Financial Services Register reads:

“Immediately cease all pensions business and pension related business. For the avoidance of doubt this includes advice in relation to any underlying investments whether regulated or unregulated. This requirement shall remain in place until such time as a Skilled Person appointed under s166 FSMA has confirmed to the Regulator that the Firm has in place a compliant business model with compliant and robust systems and controls.

“For the avoidance of doubt this does not preclude the Firm from advising on the underlying investments of past SIPP business written by the Firm provided any such advice is overseen by a Skilled Person appointed under s166 of FSMA.”

In line with its usual policy in such cases, the FCA has not issued a public statement on the precise reasons why it has decided to take this step. However, the firm claims to be able to advise on Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Schemes (Qrops), Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes (Qnups) and offshore lifetime annuities, areas which are most certainly considered to be high risk by the regulator.

Other firms to have had similar restrictions imposed on them include Holborn Assets, who were forced to cease all pension transfer business that was introduced by an overseas adviser until such time as a skilled person review of the firm’s pension advice process was completed. The firm was also required to conduct a historic business review of all its previous pension transfer business.

Well-known national advice firm DeVere has also previously fallen foul of the FCA – it was ordered to cease providing transfer value analysis reports to third parties.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.