SIPP  

Hotel room advice comes to haunt IFA after 11 years

But the Fos did not consider these points relevant to the case.

The adjudicator said there was no justification for recommending that the 58-year-old move from a low risk pension plan with guarantees to a high risk and illiquid investment in an offshore property. 

The adjudicator also thought the charges were relatively high given the amount of pension money transferred (£39,077). 

Further, as the property cost £99,950 and the funds transferred were less than half that figure, it was not clear how Mr R was to fund the difference.

Wrong advice

Ombudsman Ms Stead said the advice was fundamentally wrong and not in line with regulatory rules now or at the time.

She added Insight should have taken into consideration the end investment and, if deemed unsuitable, advised against transferring the pension.

She said: "Insight’s advice was pivotal. If Insight had advised against I don’t think Mr R would have gone ahead.”

She said there was no evidence that this advice had been given or that Mr R had, as a result, been an insistent client.

The Ombudsman also took issue with Insight’s wording in its description of events.

The IFA had labelled advice as the only “problem” on the client’s path to investing in TRG, to which the Ombudsman retorted: “Insight has termed it a ‘problem’ that Mr R had to be referred to a regulated adviser for the switch to a Sipp to go ahead. 

“The issue is one of consumer protection. A requirement to take advice from an independent, trained and regulated professional adviser aims to avoid poor consumer outcomes and detriment. 

“Insight’s adviser had to give unbiased suitable advice. It wasn’t a case of simply continuing the process or ‘rubber stamping’ what Mr R thought he might want to do, based on what other, unqualified, parties may have told him. Transferring to a Sipp to invest in overseas property wasn’t suitable for Mr R. Insight’s adviser should have told Mr R that.”

Insight did not wish to comment for this article.

The IFA has been ordered to pay Mr R the annuity he would have received (£3,693) plus interest from the date each payment fell due to the date of settlement, minus 10 per cent in tax he would have paid. On top of this it must pay the 25 per cent tax free cash of £19,494.88 he would have been entitled to.

Insight will then need to pay him the current capital cost of providing an equivalent annuity minus 10 per cent tax.