A pension adviser has been told by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to compensate a client who lost 95% of her pension fund after a SIPP transfer into the unregulated Freedom Bay investment, a property on the island of St Lucia.
In total, Mrs L lost £63,000 of her pension fund after she was persuaded to invest in the property by unregulated introducer SIPP-Able.
In 2012, Mrs L transferred £63,000, with the Financial Planning Partnership named as regulated advice business. £60,625 of this was invested in Freedom Bay.
Costs were deducted and in 2016 Mrs L was directly contacted to pay her fees by the SIPP provider, as there were insufficient funds held in the plan.
The Ombudsman’s adjudicator decided that Fergus Burns of the Financial Planning Partnership – who met Mrs L at her home to complete forms for the SIPP – was responsible for her loss of funds, as SIPP-Able was unregulated.
The Ombudsman concluded that Mrs L did not have sufficient experience to understand the SIPP investment, so her best interests were not considered. This was a high-risk investment and as it was unregulated, the usual protections of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) did not apply.
Burns is no longer authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to give advice. He was advised to compensate Mrs L for her losses, as well as pay £300 for her distress and upset.