Do you have a claim to make against a financial adviser?
The financial services industry in the UK is one of the most heavily regulated in the world, and with good reason. Consumers put their trust in independent financial advisers (IFAs) to act in their best interest when it comes to critical matters such as financial planning, pension arrangements, mortgages and investments. Their financial security relies on the integrity and sincerity of these individuals, so it’s imperative that they uphold the good values of professional practice.
Unfortunately, and despite robust regulation from governing bodies like the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), unscrupulous IFAs still find ways to bend the rules. Far too many are prepared to put their own personal gain ahead of what’s the best and most appropriate advice for their client.
This is particularly common when it comes to pensions, as these individuals sadly see pension holders as easy targets. The larger the funds held, then the bigger the commissions they can earn.
Faulty, poor or in the worst cases fraudulent pension advice sits within three distinct areas.
Defined benefit pension transfers
Firstly, we have the brewing storm over the huge number of defined benefit (DB) pension transfers recommended by so-called Pension Specialists since George Osborne introduced pension freedom in April 2015.
Defined benefit pensions have huge benefits and guarantees that are lost forever if transferred away. The FCA and every regulator since 1988 have been very vocal and consistent in their message – moving away from these type of schemes is not to be recommended and is likely only suitable and appropriate in a minority of cases.
Find out more about the facts and the fiction of defined benefit pension transfers.
All too often it’s clear that DB pension holders have been shortchanged on the advice they have been given. Not just by Pension Specialists themselves who are the only IFA’s permitted to give DB transfer advice, but also by a number of lesser qualified or unqualified and unregulated individuals feeding business into Pension Specialists and being actively involved in the advice process. This practice is not permitted under FCA rules.
Worrying it all seems to mirror the DB scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s when close to two million DB pension holders were persuaded to transfer their pensions elsewhere. The subsequent Pension Review coming at a cost to industry of approximately £11 billion.
Defined contribution scheme transfers
Secondly, we have the dubious or faulty advice given to private pensions holders (defined contribution schemes) to move from one well known and established pension provider to another. This was on the basis that somehow a better fund choice, performance or pricing structure would be achieved. Unfortunately for many, this was not the case, especially so for some historic pensions offering as much as double-digit guarantees.
Sadly the lure of an initial advice fee for the advisor and adding to their funds with management fees meant that in reality there was only one winner.
Mis-sold Self-Invested Personal Pensions
Thirdly, since 2011 there has been the scandalous practice of mis-selling of Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) and Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS).
We now know that in some cases master agents for certain UCIS schemes such as Map GPI in Troon with Store First were paid up to an incredible 40% commission. This was then shared through a network of introducers including mortgage brokers, such as the ER Network and Vita Investment Planning.
Where the services of a Pension Specialist and their level 6 qualification was required to sign off transfers into SIPPs from DB schemes, the likes of Douglas Baillie and The Pension Specialist in Perth or Keith Popplewell and The Pensions Office was used. Often they charged a nominal fee of below £1,000 to liberate these pensions into SIPPs, but then received a handsome kickback from the introducer or master agent for their valuable and vital co-operation.
Unfortunately through a lethal combination of initial commissions and flawed investment schemes many pension holders have lost some if not all of their pension funds, but are still left in the position of paying for expensive ongoing SIPP fees.
If you believe you may have lost money as a result of transferring your pension elsewhere following professional advice from an IFA or Pension Specialist, Beat the Banks are here to help. We are committed to fighting for justice and the compensation you deserve. To find out more speak to our expert team today on 01382 200474.