Thousands more Sipp complaints forecast to hit

Complaints against Sipp provider Berkeley Burke are being seen as a key test case.

A decision made by a High Court judge in October means Berkeley Burke's legal battle against the Financial Ombudsman Service may now go to judicial review.

The pension administrator has been disputing the outcome of a Fos decision where the ombudsman ruled it would have to compensate a client.

Berkeley Burke came under fire for not doing adviser-style due diligence on a client's Sipp investment.

Two ombudsmen found in favour of the client but Berkeley Burke attempted to appeal against their ruling.

However in a separate ruling, the Pension Ombudsman Service ruled Berkeley Burke was not liable.

What is clear, according to Mr Moret, is that the risks posed to some providers “is a ticking time bomb which may have severe implications for a number of providers – large and small”.

Martin Tilley, director of technical services at Dentons Pension Management, agreed “there is potentially a liability in store for some Sipp operators” if it can be established that procedures did not meet the regulator's requirements.

He said: “I think the assumption that 20 per cent of Sipps holding non-standard investments are potentially likely to lead to legal or ombudsman claims may be a little high, perhaps biased by our own experience.”

Mr Tilley, however, is not worried about the impact of these problematic assets on Denton’s business.

He said: “Dentons has always maintained a very tight and robust asset acceptance process, so I have to say that this is not a concern for us, but I share his concern for the industry.”

Alan Chan, director and chartered financial planner at London-based IFS Wealth & Pensions, agrees with the view that non-standard investments are an issue for the Sipp market.

He said: “Any future complaints or compensation would clearly have a big impact on the financial stability of the Sipp providers.”