NatWest gets SIB all-clear on pension transfers

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NATIONAL Westminster Bank's independent financial advice service has started giving advice on pension transfers again after being given a clean bill of health by the Securities and Investments Board.

NatWest Insurance Services halted its pension transfer service earlier this year after the regulator asked it to review advice being given to customers.

A NatWest spokesman said this week that 100 cases were still being investigated in detail, but that NWIS had changed its procedures and the SIB was now satisfied.

The regulator is concerned about whether investment advisers are able to offer an accurate and fair assessment of whether it is in someone's interest to transfer money out of a company pension scheme to a personal pension.

The calculation is a complex one because it requires detailed information about the individual's company scheme.

North of England Building Society admitted this week that it had been asked by the SIB to investigate 600 investment recommendations made to clients on pension transfers and investment bonds. The transfer cases include at least one involving a redundant miner.

The society asked the actuary William Mercer to conduct the investigation. No compensation has yet been offered to any of the people involved, although the building sciety has promised to ensure that this will be paid if necessary.

North of England said the review was requested by the SIB after a routine visit.

North of England offers independent advice from its branches but is due to become a tied agent of General Accident on 1 September.

General Accident said it intended the tie to go ahead as planned.

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