SIPPAug 13 2019

Troubled GPC Sipp bought by Hartley Pensions

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Troubled GPC Sipp bought by Hartley Pensions

Self-invested personal pension provider GPC Sipp, which entered into administration earlier this year embroiled in hundreds of customer claims, has been bought by Hartley Pensions Limited. 

In a statement published today (August 13) GPC Sipp's administrators said the sale, which completed on August 12, would include the transfer of the Sipps and small self administered schemes held via the provider's trustee company Guardian Pension Trustee Limited to Hartley.

GPC Sipp, formerly known as Guardian Pension Consultants, administered assets worth £130m and Adam Stephens and Henry Shinners of Smith & Williamson were appointed as its joint administrators in June this year. 

Smith & Williamson confirmed all GPC staff will transfer across to Hartley, in a move it said would ensure clients experience "minimum disruption" in the process. 

Ssas provider Hartley opened its first Sipp in 2001 and as part of the Wilton Group manages more than £1bn of assets. 

GPC became insolvent as a result of problems with the investments in its Sipps - several of which failed, such as Harlequin Properties, a £400m project involving a luxury hotel development that was largely never built. 

The assets in these Sipps were placed between 2009 and 2012. And in light of problems with the investments the company has not marketed its services since 2013, according to administrators.

Overall GPC administered around 3,200 Sipps and 50 Ssass, holding more than 8,000 property assets.

Adam Stephens, lead administrator, said: "We are pleased to confirm the sale of the business to Hartley, which will provide continuity of service to GPC’s clients. We recognise that the insolvency of GPC may have been unsettling to clients."

Administrators said the sale will not affect any right GPC customers may have to make a claim against GPC at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which is currently accepting claims against the firm. 

In June the FSCS confirmed it had paid £95m in compensation to clients who held unregulated assets with GPC, with claims having been brought against IFAs who had advised clients to transfer their pension to the provider and then invest them in high risk assets. 

The scheme has paid out on at least 2,206 claims, most of which were brought between 2014 and 2019 but a handful date back to as far as 2004.

The claims peaked in 2015, when 1016 were received and 944 paid and in 2016, when 519 were received and 566 were paid.

This is not the first time Smith & Williamson has sold the Sipps and Ssass of troubled businesses to Hartley, having arranged a similar sale for wealth manager Greyfriars Asset Management for a sum of £820,000 last year. 

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