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Douglas Baillie Ltd and The Pension Specialist

Douglas Baillie Ltd and The Pension Specialist

Douglas Baillie Ltd collapsed in 2016 after an all-too-familiar chain of events involving ill-advised pension transfers, high-risk investments and, ultimately, lost money. The writing was very much on the wall when the FCA, concerned about compliance issues, suspended Baillie’s pension switching business – The Pension Specialist.

Taking clients from unregulated introducers

The firm had been accepting pension investment clients from a number of unregulated third-party introducers all over the UK, like Fast Pensions Ltd and MAP Global Property Investments and facilitating their transfer of these funds into Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) without being fully transparent about the potential risks of doing so. The number of Financial Ombudsman decisions against Douglas Baillie Ltd makes sobering reading.

These clients had been targeted by the unregulated introducers, usually via cold calls, and convinced their pensions were performing poorly by the callers’ well-practised but deceptive sales pitches. Once convinced their current pension arrangements were bad, they were offered alternative investments with guaranteed yields far in excess of what they were currently achieving. 

Unfortunately, more often than not these investments turned out to be extremely underwhelming. A number of unregulated investment schemes involved in the Douglas Baillie Ltd case include:

Preying on ordinary pension-holders

It’s important to note the victims of this scam were not the mega-rich looking to boost their already impressive wealth, they were ordinary men and women who had worked hard all their lives and were now looking forward to enjoying their retirement.

Given their modest pension pots, these people should never have been recommended to invest in such schemes without being made fully aware of the risks involved. There has been much debate in the industry about where the responsibility for investigating the suitability of such schemes should lie, but a landmark court ruling declared very firmly that it should lie with companies such as Douglas Baillie Ltd.

In 2016, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took away the company’s right to provide pension transfer advice, but this wasn’t enough to prevent its eventual collapse. This left their clients sadly out of pocket, with an estimated 9,000 men and women losing substantial sums of money, although the true figure could be much higher.

Consequently, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has received a huge number of complaints against Douglas Baillie Ltd and The Pension Specialist in regard to the nature of their investments and the inadequacy of their advice.

Failed duty of care

Companies like Douglas Baillie Ltd failed in their duty to protect their clients’ investments. They should have carried out assessments of their financial circumstances before advising them to transfer their pension pots into SIPPs. And, they should have investigated the viability of the schemes they were persuading people to invest in. 

They didn’t do either adequately, and now it appears that hundreds of millions of pounds of their clients’ pension funds has been lost as a consequence.

Here at Beat the Banks, we have an excellent track record in handling compensation claims for mis-sold pensions and poor pension advice. We know the industry inside out, we construct robust cases and we offer a sympathetic ear to the victims of these schemes.

To find out more about how we can help, complete the online contact form or call the team on 0800 193 1234 for a no-obligation chat with an expert who knows what you’ve been through.

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