Asset Independent Financial Advisors – Mis-Selling SIPPs
There are many different types of SIPPs mis-selling; from offering poor advice to pressuring consumers to invest. Asset Independent Financial Advisors have hit the headlines in the past for their financial conduct, and now several people are making a claim against them.
If you’ve been mis-sold to by Asset, or indeed any other financial advisor, read on.
Using ‘introducer firms’
In 2016, a Panorama documentary focused on a rising problem in the world of investment – unregulated ‘introducer firms’. The programme revealed that introducers were essentially cold-calling consumers on behalf of financial advisors, and encouraging them to switch their current pension to a SIPP instead.
The introducers who featured in the documentary (First Review Pension Services and Lifestyle Connections) supposedly ceased operating after a ban was brought in by the Treasury later that year. However, the truth of the matter was rather different. Rather than stopping their services completely, the introducer companies merely moved their offices abroad, then carried on as normal.
The introducers weren’t operating in the consumers’ best interests either. Indeed, one employee informed the BBC that the objective was to get “everyone to invest in Cape Verde”, whether it benefitted them or not.
Asset Independent Financial Services and Pension Connect
How does this relate to Asset Independent Financial Services? In 2016, it was revealed that the company were working with Pension Connect (an introducer firm) to reach out to potential investors.
At the time, Asset confirmed that they worked with Pension Connect to “access retail clients”. They refuted that the practices were anything other than professional and ethical. However, it transpired that several of Pension Connect’s employees previously worked for First Review Pension Services – one of the introducer companies investigated by Panorama.
What happened next?
In 2017, the FCA released a statement, demanding that Asset Independent Financial Services “cease all regulated investment activities for customers introduced by unauthorised introducers” until a further review had taken place.
It was also revealed that Asset’s recommended SIPP product was invested in ventures like The Resort Group – a hotel development scheme in Cape Verde. The Resort Group’s headquarters are in Gibraltar, which means they’re not FCA regulated. That means, if anything goes wrong, investors have far less financial protection.
What’s the problem?
On paper, investing in The Resort Group didn’t seem like a bad option. The luxury hotels were hiring thousands of staff and seemed to be performing well, to begin with. However, by 2019, the project was struggling, with returns falling far short of what the company had originally forecast. For customers with SIPPs tied up in the venture, it was extremely bad news.
Unsurprisingly, the number of complaints against Asset Independent Financial Advisors started to rise. By February 2020, the advisory firm had been declared in default by the FSCS, which meant that it was no longer able to pay out the compensation claims made in relation to its activities.
Have Asset Independent Financial Advisors mis-sold your SIPP?
If you were sold a SIPP via Asset Independent Financial Advisors, or through their introducer firm, Pension Connect, you may be in a position to make a claim. Remember that seeking compensation is a relatively straightforward process – call us today on 0808 163 1659 to learn more.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve been a victim of mis-selling, ask yourself the following:
- Did it feel pressurised or coerced? Introducer companies have been criticised for their forceful approach during cold-calling. If you received a cold call from Pension Connect, and you felt that they hassled you into committing to a SIPP, this should set alarm bells ringing.
- Did they explain the SIPP to you? Did Asset Independent Financial Advisors go through the details of the SIPP with you, including outlining all set-up fees and other associated costs? It’s their job to make sure that you understand all aspects of your new pension.
- Were the risks outlined? As this case proves, some SIPPs are placed in high-risk investments like The Resort Group’s Cape Verde project. This is fine if you’ve been made aware of the risks – but counts as mis-selling if the risks weren’t adequately explained to you.
- Did they ask about your unique circumstances? All pension advice should be given aftera comprehensive analysis of your current circumstances. Otherwise, there’s a real risk that you’ll be recommended a pension that isn’t suitable for your needs.
What to do next?
If you believe that Asset Independent Financial Advisors mis-sold you a SIPP, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. To start the process, get in touch with the Goodwin Barrett team today on 0808 163 1659 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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