The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a warning about unregulated firms offering free Budget advice.
The regulator said it had evidence that a number of firms have been contacting consumers by phone, email and text offering free pension reviews in light of the Budget changes to annuitisation.
Some of the companies have been falsely claiming to represent the FCA or the government and the majority offer to achieve better returns by moving individuals into self-invested personal pensions (Sipp) or small self-administered schemes (Ssas). These typically invest in unregulated investments, such as overseas property, forestry or storage units.
The FCA’s warning follows the Financial Ombudsman Service revealing earlier this week that Sipp complaints rose by 50% in the 12 months to the end of March.
Tracey McDermott (pictured), director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said: ‘People should be very wary if they are contacted out of the blue by someone offering a ‘free pension review’. Most of the companies offering this ‘service’ are not authorised by us, and we’re concerned that the reviews often end with pension pots placed in higher-risk, unregulated investments.
‘If you see or receive offers of ‘free pension reviews’, just ignore them. If you are called out of the blue to discuss your pension, just hang up. Your pension is far too important to be put in the hands of a cold-caller.’