SIPP  

Advisers may dodge picking up cost of Sipp collapse

Advisers may dodge picking up cost of Sipp collapse

Advisers could be spared additional fees from the fallout of the Lifetime Sipp collapse because the lifeboat fund is looking to providers to recover the cost.

Lifetime Sipp went into liquidation this month, leading to hundreds of investors knocking on the door of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for redress.

The self-invested personal pension provider had 3,600 unsecure creditors with liabilities amounting to £56.5m, and so far 450 people have approached the FSCS for compensation.

The scheme has told FTAdviser it expects the cases to fall into the provider funding class rather than the intermediaries' class, meaning it would be providers who will fork out the cost.

An FSCS spokesperson said: "We know that in all cases the product-type is Sipp; but what we are unable to confirm at this stage are the investments contained within those Sipps.

"We know that in many cases those investments are non-standard, high-risk investments, but further investigation is required before we can identify them.

"Regarding the funding class, at present we think it is likely to be the investment provision class (ie providers) rather than the life distribution, pensions and investment intermediation class (ie advisers), but we are not able to be certain at this stage."

The administrators' final report out this month (April 2) alleged it could take years for investor claims to be processed.

But the FSCS has since told FTAdviser it expects the process to take months rather than years, as the scheme is preparing to declare the firm officially 'in default'.

The FSCS stated: "Although some of the 3,600 unsecured creditors currently with the administrators may also include claimants to FSCS, a distinction should be made between those two groups, in particular regarding the timescale.

"We can’t comment on the 'several years' timescale quoted from the administrators’ report regarding the unsecured creditors; but our current estimate regarding the 450 claimants to FSCS is months rather than years.

"Once the firm would be declared in default, which we estimate to be within months, we will make payouts on any upheld claims within our standard six-month [service level agreement]."

Lifetime Sipp collapsed last year after receiving claims from a number of unhappy investors with assets the likes of failed property scheme Harlequin.

The Sipp provider had 4,746 Sipps, including 2,018 troubled books, where the value of the underlying investments has been eroded.

This month the firm went from administration to creditors voluntary liquidation, meaning it went from trying to avoid insolvency to selling all assets before dissolving the company completely.

Large parts of the Sipp books, the untainted assets, had already been transferred to provider Hartley Pensions for £325,000 in May last year.

carmen.reichman@ft.com