Intrinsic criticised by Fos over Ucis advice

Intrinsic criticised by Fos over Ucis advice

Intrinsic has been taken to task by the Financial Ombudsman Service after it was found to have given bad advice in a number of pension transfer cases involving unregulated investments.

Only last month (September 24), FTAdviser reported Intrinsic had lost five separate Fos complaints in which the claimants transferred their pensions into a self-invested personal pension and subsequently invested in unregulated schemes with Sustainable Growth Group, while two claimants also invested in Global Forestry.

But now the Fos has published three more decisions with the claimants raising similar issues over the advice they received from an appointed representative of Intrinsic to transfer their pension.

In all three cases, the claimants transferred their various pensions into a Sipp and subsequently invested in unregulated and illiquid schemes such as green oil and forestry based investments schemes that later failed.

The Fos ruled in all three cases that Intrinsic was responsible for the advice given to the claimant, although it was done through an appointed representative.

The ombudsman said in each claim the advice to transfer to a Sipp could not be considered in isolation and should have taken into account what investments were to be held within the Sipp.

Ombudsman Philip Roberts said in one of the cases: “I understand that the appointed representative tried to limit the advice given in this case. However the adviser should have considered the suitability of the overall transaction.

“The adviser should have considered the proposed ‘green oil’ investment in order to be able to give suitable advice on the setting up of a new Sipp and the transfer of some of the existing pension funds to it.”

He went on to say that if the adviser could not consider the investment they should have explained this to their client so they could have gone to another regulated adviser and got suitable advice.

In another case ombudsman Michael Stubbs referred to a number of statements made by the Financial Services Authority in 2013.

One statement said: “It has been brought to the FSA’s attention that some financial advisers are giving advice to customers on pension transfers or pension switches without assessing the advantages and disadvantages of investments proposed to be held within the new pension. 

“Financial advisers using this advice model are under the mistaken impression that this process means they do not have to consider the unregulated investment as part of their advice to invest in the Sipp and that they only need to consider the suitability of the Sipp in the abstract. This is incorrect.”

Even though this was issued after the advice was given by the adviser in this case Mr Stubbs said it had not been a new requirement but rather a reminder of what the rules in force at the time of the advice were. 

Mr Stubbs added: “Therefore, when giving the advice to transfer the defined benefit pension to the Sipp, the adviser should have considered the investments to be held within the Sipp.