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Yvonne Goodwin: Pensions cold call reveals dubious practises

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Yvonne Goodwin: Pensions cold call reveals dubious practises

Over the last month, since my husband took a “cold call” from someone enquiring as to his pension plans, we have been playing along in an attempt to find out what’s going on out there in this pre-retail distribution review (RDR) financial services world and whether the RDR will actually do anything about changing what are, in my opinion, sharp practises. 

The phone call came from a call centre offering the fantastic opportunity to buy agricultural land and enquired as to whether we had any old pension schemes that their IFA connections could review to establish if they were suitable to transfer into a Sipp which could then invest in this area.

Problem so far; isn’t the desire to save for retirement supposed to come before establishing what is or isn’t a suitable investment for the client?

Next up, a package arrived. Nice glossy brochure about agricultural land and a copy of an article that had appeared in The Daily Telegraph showing the past poor performance of insured Managed funds and independent advisers commenting on the wider investment opportunities within Sipps.  Having spoken to one of these advisers she is appalled that her comments for a totally unrelated article are being used in this way.

A further telephone conversation ensued in which the call centre guy then told me that the investment is totally regulated by the FSA and covered up to £48,000 by the Financial Ombudsman Scheme!  Well who knew?  It had been signed off by a well known firm of solicitors.

Next, a further letter arrived enclosing a  statement with an FSA reference at the bottom which relates to a Mifid exempt firm on the FSA register that has directors but no-one authorised to give advice(?) together with a comment saying how much agricultural land had risen over the last year according to a well-known firm of surveyors. 

A fact-find from another IFA firm was enclosed, who, according to the FSA register, aren’t permitted to give pension transfer advice.  Maybe I should phone them to enquire as to their motives in getting involved in something like this.

This was followed up by a phone call offering us the chance to talk to an IFA who just happened to be in their office. I asked for his name and again looked this up on the FSA register – inactive since August 2008.

So, I still don’t know whether their agricultural land investment is regulated or unregulated.  I’d like to know who at the FSA I should report all these findings to and will it be worthwhile in terms of whether any action can be taken or will we have to wait a few years and then find out that hundreds of people have been mis-sold and advisers like me will end up contributing towards the FSCS to bail them out when the perpetrators  are long gone.   

Just see the attached on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13462052

Thoughts anyone or have I just disturbed a number of nice cosy remunerative introductory practices in which case I’d best get the body armour out.

Yvonne Goodwin is managing director of Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management

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