TODAY’S BLOG

GOOD COP STORY

Regulation is a good thing. There are a lot of crooks out there and when it comes to your money, there are loads of ways crooks seek to part you from it. I may get exasperated with the process, find the focus often in the wrong place, but I can assure you that regulation is not easy, there is legal due process. It could and should be easier.

Scams and financial crime, adviser firms ripping people off and going bust end up costing the remaining advisers a lot of money. We are the insurance, or a large part of it, stumping up funds in the form of regulatory fees and levies, which are now at such alarming levels, that there is genuine cause to pause and wonder if any financial adviser is actually sustainable.

So some good news of bad guys getting caught and the FCA able to now get on with their job. Long story short…

Lots of people were ripped off moving their pensions into a SIPP, (there is nothing wrong with a SIPP, but as ever, its about being in the wrong hands). Once the money was in the SIPP, it was invested into what I can only describe as joke/scam investments that promise high returns. They pander to those that don’t understand the stockmarket (or investing) as the “investments” are not listed on the stockmarket. Its junk, simple as that. The “adviser” charged multiple fees, all of which were almost certainly way above a typical adviser fee/charge. These sorts of “non-regulated” investment funds (I struggle to even call it a fund) tend to pay enormous commission (they are not regulated).

Cheers to the FCA

HANG ON DOMINIC, I HAVE A SIPP, SHOULD I WORRY?

Do we move pensions to SIPPs? Yes, often! Because they can be brilliant, cheap to run and offer a vast range of REGULATED retail funds for us to use to grow your money. Some are more expensive than others, but our job is to select one that is suitable for you (if it works, cost effective, value for money, provider financially robust etc). Our fee structure is easy to understand 1% a year.

What rip off advisers do is charge the SIPP all sorts of fees and pick “funds” (not regulated ones) that pay them additonal “fees” as well. The driving motivation is to fleece the investor, not to make good investment decisions, but to take as much money out of your pension for themselves. Let’s call a spade a spade.

TIME FOR A CELEBRATORY DRINK

I am delighted, with the news that these criminals have been caught! I may even pour myself a drink before noon to celebrate. Sadly, it will likely take years to attempt to get money back to investors, most of it won’t be returned, it will leave many in dire straits for their own retirement plans and all of them will understandably think all advisers are untrustworthy and so continue to perpetuate the story that investing is bad, advisers are bad, pensions are bad, the stockmarket is bad… yet it is precisely because they didnt use a proper adviser, or a proper investment that its ended up like this. Very sad, wont help encourage people to save, more likely to cause the reverse!

NOT SOPHISTICATED INVESTORS

Something like 2,000 investors were persuaded to move their pensions into a SIPP and then placed the money into “alternative assets” such as tree plantations, hot pods and property in Brazil. Something like £92m was moved into these “assets”. That’s actually a low average pension size of about £46,000 – so these 2,000 people hadn’t saved much either, it probably was their life savings in pensions. So, whilst I risk generalising, these are not sophisticated investors, they are precisely the opposite and less able to tell a investment duck from a swan.

There is more to it than this (see the links at the bottom) but suffice to say the FCA are now ready to deal with the company, its Directors and will attempt to get client money back. Here I have to admit to cynicism, as £92m will almost certainly never get returned, I imagine 10% of it is more likely.  The Directors of Avacade and Alexandra Associates have already been ordered to pay £10.7m in restitution to investors (averaging £5,300 to each investor). Somehow I suspect to hear “ we don’t have the money, its been spent on legal fees, defending the indefensible, and a Ferrari or two…. Oh and the company is now bust”.

So if you have a friend that has ever had any contact with Alexandra Associates (UK) Ltd, or Avacade Future Solutions (AA) or Craig and Lee Lummis, please urge them to get in touch with the FCA. In truth you probably don’t, because £46,000 in a pension fund is not likely to be the sort of friend you have unless they are quite young.

Well done FCA, very glad to see another one caught. I do however wish you would name and shame the SIPP providers that not simply allowed, but facilitated this to happen.

EVIDENCE & LINKS

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

Take Survey