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Bank House Investment Management

Bank House Investment Management

Bank House Investment Management (BHIM) was a Cheltenham-based financial advisory firm directed by Robert Ward and Tristam Freer. They offered pension review and advisory services to customers looking to get more out of their pension funds. 

In 2014 and 2015 the Financial Conduct Authority had cause to visit BHIM, after growing concerned about the standard of pension advice the firm was offering.

Following these investigations, the FCA served notices to the firm prohibiting them from giving advice on the transfer of SIPP funds to any Unregulated Collective Investment Scheme (UCIS). The FCA found that while BHIM promised a premium service, it appeared they had in fact outsourced large portions of their processes to unauthorised third parties, notably Hennessy Jones Limited, City Administration Limited, and Holistic Wealth Management. There was little oversight from BHIM on the actions of these third parties and the quality of the advice they were giving out to customers.

Shockingly, Bank House chose to ignore the FCA’s ban and continued to recommend SIPP transfers into UCIS until they were finally banned from conducting any regulated business by the FCA in 2016. They were subsequently declared as being in default by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in April 2017.

In May 2019, the FCA made their Decision Notice against Bank House Investment Management public, issuing a penalty of £311,639 against the firm, and a further £140,825 against its directors.

Misleading portfolios

The FCA had found Bank House customer SIPPs were invested in three portfolios, misleadingly described as ‘cautious’, ‘moderate’ and ‘adventurous’. These were made up of differing proportions of the Bonds and, in some cases, a small percentage of cash. 

The portfolios were meant to align with a customer’s attitude to risk. However, in practice there was little difference between the risks and returns of the three portfolios. The terms used to describe the three portfolios failed to reflect the reality that customers were exposed to high levels of risk no matter the portfolio their SIPP was invested in.

Customers were promised fixed returns and capital protection, when in reality the Bonds within the portfolios were high-risk, illiquid and unlikely to be suitable for retail investors, except in very limited circumstances.

The reckless pursuit of personal gain

The FCA concluded the firm’s directors had chosen to ignore the obvious risks and consequences of their advice and had acted recklessly in pursuit of personal gain.

We think it’s wrong that well-meaning pension holders have been conned out of their money by these ruthless individuals. That’s why we’re committed to helping victims of cases like these recover their money and claim the compensation they are entitled to. 

If you were a customer of Bank House Investment Management and lost money as a result of their bad advice, call us on 01382 200474 to see how our claims experts could help you.

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