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FCA blocks Hartley Pensions from accepting new business

FCA blocks Hartley Pensions from accepting new business

Sipp provider Hartley Pensions has been told by the Financial Conduct Authority it can no longer accept new clients.

Hartley Pensions has been subjected to an FCA restriction whereby it must not accept any new clients from Friday, March 4 unless it has been authorised to do so by the regulator.

The notice also states that, in relation to pipeline Sipp/Ssas business, the provider must be “open and transparent” and answer any enquiries or concerns from advisers, introducers, pension scheme operators and administrators.

Hartley, which provides Sipp services to white-label platform provider Hubwise, must also contact its top five Sipp client business relationships as soon as possible to inform them that it cannot accept further Sipp/Ssas pipeline business for them. 

The provider must then contact all other business relationships “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The restriction will stay in effect until the FCA is satisfied it can be lifted.

Hartley Pensions said the restriction was a voluntary action taken by the provider and that it was "working closely with the FCA to address feedback".

The provider stated: “There is no impact on existing Hartley clients and we are in contact with all advisers and other business partners so their clients are informed.

“We are committed to delivering the highest standards of products and services for our customers and are working closely to address feedback from the regulator before taking on additional Sipp or Ssas clients."

Nathan Bridgeman, director of SeaBridge Ssas, said: “It is essential that any adviser understands what is under the bonnet when it comes to any Sipp and Ssas book."

He said rigorous due diligence had "never been more imporant".

Bridgeman added: "Above cost and saying ‘yes’ advisers need to consider the sustainability, commitment to market and financials of their preferred Sipp and Ssas provider and keep them under constant review as things change."

Hartley Pensions was established and approved as a pensions operator under the Wilton Group in late 2016.

Hartley has taken on the books of a number of collapsed Sipp providers.

Administrators sold the Sipp business and certain assets of Guinness Mahon to Hartley Pensions in February 2020.

The sale of Guinness Mahon included around 4,000 Sipps and certain other assets but did not include the legal entity Guinness Mahon Trust Corporation.

Guinness Mahon entered administration following a raft of complaints about historic high-risk non-standard investments.

In 2018, Hartley Pensions said it would administer the good and bad assets of collapsed Sipp provider Lifetime Sipp, which went into administration in March 2018.

Then later in August 2019, Hartley bought defunct provider GPC Sipp's healthy Sipp and Ssas books for £482,000.

amy.austin@ft.com