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Claims managers 'won't let Sipp cases die'

Claims managers 'won't let Sipp cases die'

Claims management companies have been accused of refusing to let the historic issues faced by the self-invested personal pension sector die.

Martin Tilley, pensions director at Hurley Partners, it was unlikely there would be any new scam cases as providers were more cautious about the investments they accept into their Sipps and accused CMCs of dwelling on the past.

Due to CMCs’ pursuit of Sipp claims, providers were “having to complete a mountain of CMCs' requests for information and data”, of which the vast majority were not worthy of a claim and a waste of resources, Mr Tilley said.

Mr Tilley said: “It’s not so much the Sipp industry dwelling on the past, it’s the claims management companies who won’t let it die.

“The issues that are plaguing the industry are historic and almost without exception were cases accepted before 2014.

"It was from this time, irrespective of what it had said before, the FCA made it perfectly clear what was expected of Sipp providers in terms of asset acceptance and acceptance of cases from non regulated intermediaries. 

“No new scam cases are likely to occur, nor will many have occurred in the last five years. If they do, the Sipp provider is quite likely going to be wholly liable as they should be well and truly on the case by now.”

He added the industry must now attempt to change the public mindset that Sipps are a bad product and full of risk.

This year he said he wanted to see fewer Sipp providers and advisers being targeted by CMCs over cases dating back years.

In July 2014 the FCA published a Dear CEO letter to all Sipp providers warning of failings on due diligence on non-standard investments.

Earlier this year there was a missed opportunity to provide certainty for the Sipp industry and set a precedent for the debate surrounding Sipp provider responsibility when accepting assets, according to Mr Tilley.

Berkeley Burke Sipp dropped its appeal against a Financial Ombudsman Service decision from 2014 which ordered it to compensate a client after it failed to carry out adviser-style due diligence on his investment.

The Court of Appeal decided to let Berkeley Burke appeal the decision in February after it said the decision was potentially one of "considerable and wider importance within the industry and for customers". But it was dropped in October.

The profession is also awaiting the outcome of the Carey Pensions trial which concluded in March 2018 and will also have ramifications for the industry.

The Adams v Carey Pensions High Court case also centred on the question of provider responsibility when accepting investments into a Sipp and touched on similar issues to the judicial review case brought by Berkeley Burke.

Mr Tilley said: “The [Carey] case is sufficiently different however from the Berkeley Burke case.

“In one, good title to an asset was clearly obtained, but at an inflated price and which subsequently underperformed.