Since the late 1980’s, the transfer of pension funds from one plan/scheme to another has been commonplace. Often there are good reasons for such action but sometimes the transfer was not necessarily the best course of action for the policyholder and they may end up with a pension income far lower than they would have received had they not transferred. The main areas we check are as follows: a) Final Salary Transfer – rarely is it good practice to recommend that a member transfer away from a final salary/defined benefit pension scheme (which has built in guarantees) into any form of alternative pension product. b) Guaranteed Annuity Rates (GARs) – GARS are often very attractive and so it is seldom beneficial to forego such a benefit in favour of a different pension product or provider. c) Risk – did the advice given reflect the individual’s attitude towards risk and their tolerance of losses – again, especially important where the pension arrangement was expected to be the individual’s main source of retirement income. d) Comparison – did the adviser give the member a comparison between the costs/benefits of the original arrangement and the new fund/provider? e) Lack of transparency on fees – we often find that the individual was not made aware of any management fees or additional costs attached to the investment. Often it is clear that the transfer was made for the benefit of the adviser (commission received) and not the member. f) Investment selection – although there is no guarantee that a new pension arrangement will perform any better than the original arrangement, it is not usually a problem where a transfer between mainstream investment products/funds is concerned. The main areas of claim tend to involve transfers to arrangements where a higher risk investment strategy is implemented (perhaps using illiquid or ‘alternative investment’ funds). g) Understanding – were the advantages and disadvantages of the investment strategy explained in equal measure or were the perceived advantages highlighted whilst the downside was underplayed? Again, maybe there was a deliberate attempt to misinform the investor. If you think your Pension Transfer was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
Self-Invested Personal Pension Plans (SIPPs) are a type of personal pension that allows a policyholder to hold a wide range of investments, many often not available through standard Personal Pension Plans (PPPs). Many SIPPs paid high commissions to advisers and, as a result, many people were persuaded to transfer existing pension plans into SIPPs merely to gain higher commissions for the so called adviser. Furthermore, some advisers recommended that the SIPP be invested in particularly risky investments such as overseas property, environmental related investments (forestry, green oil, carbon credits etc), car park spaces, storage pods, student accommodation etc. which led to huge losses. It is likely that someone was mis-sold a SIPP where any of the following apply: a) Risk - the advice given did not take into account the individual’s attitude towards risk and their tolerance of losses – this is especially important where the SIPP was expected to be the individual’s main source of retirement income. b) Understanding – the advantages and disadvantages of the investment strategy were not explained in equal measure. Perhaps the investor was inexperienced. Maybe there was a deliberate attempt to misinform the investor. c) Lack of transparency on fees – if the individual was not made aware of any management fees or additional costs attached to the investment. d) Liquidity – the investment (usually an ‘alternative’ investment’) is illiquid and difficult to transfer out of. It is also usual that this type of investment is difficult to value. If you think your SIPP Transfer was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
What is a QROPS? QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) were introduced in 2006 primarily for people from the UK intending to retire overseas. A QROPS is an overseas pension scheme that can receive a transfer from a UK based pension arrangement and can be very attractive because of the potential tax benefits (namely the possibility of avoiding UK income tax and substituting it with a lower rate of tax, depending on the location of the QROPS). Whilst a QROPS can sound very attractive, in recent years a number of QROPS have been shut down for either failing to comply with the legislation and/or being used to exploit tax loopholes. Even if a particular scheme is listed on HMRC’s ‘list of accepted schemes’ it does not provide any guarantees that the scheme is not in breach of legislation and therefore subject to disqualification at a later date. If an individual finds themselves in breach of such legislation by making an “unauthorised transfer” (i.e. a transfer into a scheme that is in breach of legislation) the penalties and potential losses are significant: a) Unauthorised transfers are subject to be taxed at 55%. b) Transfers are often subject to large commissions. c) Loss of original benefits from the pension the funds were transferred from. If you think your Pension Transfer to a QROPS was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
There is a huge range of investments where we see mis-selling but the most common areas of claim involve investments that have made capital losses, usually unexpectedly or dramatically. The products most usually associated with such claims are Investment Bonds, With-Profit Bonds, Equity ISA, unit trusts, structured products and ‘Alternative Investments’. The advice investors receive should be ‘clear, fair and not misleading’, and ‘suitable for the client’s investment objectives’. Where the advice falls short of these directives, it may be a case of mis-selling. As with other areas of mis-selling, the following often applies: a) Risk - the advice given did not take into account the individual’s attitude towards risk and their tolerance of losses. b) Understanding – the advantages and disadvantages of the investment strategy were not explained in equal measure. Perhaps the investor was inexperienced. Maybe there was a deliberate attempt to misinform the investor. If the investor is elderly, should they have had a friend/relative present when the advice was given – i.e. were they vulnerable? c) Liquidity – the investment (usually an ‘alternative’ investment’) is illiquid and difficult to transfer out of. It is also usual that this type of investment is difficult to value. If you think your Investment was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
It is often though that the purchase of a traditional annuity at retirement is a low risk transaction because the pension fund capital is exchanged for a guaranteed income for life. However, mis-selling may have taken place if any of the following apply: a) Options - the individual was not made aware of their options, such as buying the annuity from a different company from the one where they built up their pension fund (the ‘Open Market Option’). Furthermore, they may not have been informed of the other opportunities including Income Drawdown or, more recently, the ability to take the whole of the pension fund as a lump sum (albeit taxable). b) Health issues – the individual may have been in poor health, had a health impairment or may have been a smoker at the time the annuity was arranged, yet they are receiving a standard rate of pension. c) Death benefits – the individual was sold an annuity that will stop paying out when they die. If you think your Pension Annuity Transfer was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
A Free Standing Additional Voluntary Contribution (FSAVC) arrangement allows a member of an occupational pension scheme to ‘top up’ their retirement funds by paying into a personal product outside of their company pension scheme. The higher costs usually associated with the product may have a significant impact on their eventual retirement fund whilst members may have also missed out on the benefits of an in-house pension – such as lower costs a, ‘added years’ and the security of an employer scheme. Areas that we look at in a potential mis-selling case are: a) In-house AVC Scheme - could the member have joined an in-house AVC scheme? If so, was this option mentioned to them by the adviser? b) Higher costs – was the member told that the FSAVC had higher costs than an in-house arrangement that could decrease the value of the pension fund? c) Funds – did the member receive details of the funds the FSAVC was investing in? d) Added Years – did the employer scheme’s AVC arrangement give an ‘added years’ option? If you think your Pension FSAVC Transfer was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below.
When an employer pays into a company pension scheme on behalf of an employee, it is unlikely to be beneficial for a member to opt out of the scheme in favour of a private pension arrangement. This is especially the case where the company pension scheme provides a ‘defined benefit’. Even if the company pension scheme is a ‘Money Purchase’ arrangement, it is unlikely to be worthwhile opting out given that a company scheme often has lower administration fees. If you think your Pension Opt Out Transfer was unsuitable for you and you were mis-sold, please complete the contact form below. Don't lose your Pension call us now
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