Clients of a failed self-invested personal pension operator have been warned about a scam.
The Financial Conduct Authority last week (March 24) said it is aware of letters and emails circulating to clients of Rowanmoor Personal Pensions Limited, claiming to be from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
Rowanmoor’s administrators, Evelyn Partners, told the FCA this is a scam, and urged concerned clients to contact them using details listed on the regulator’s website.
The Sipp operator entered administration in August last year after having been found to have failed in its due diligence by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Rowanmoor operated approximately 4,800 pensions at the time, with £1.4bn of assets under administration.
The Fos found against Rowanmoor in a sample case last January involving due diligence errors.
It found the Sipp operator had failed to verify the integrity of an introducer firm it worked with on hundreds of high-risk self-invested personal pension investments.
The Fos said Rowanmoor should have spotted warning signs sooner that the regulated advice firm, CIB Life and Pensions Limited, was not giving its clients the full advice it had purported to.
Failure to do this resulted in client Mr T losing his occupational pension savings on an unregulated offshore property deal.
The Fos told Rowanmoor to drum up the cash needed to compensate the client fully, as well as take ownership of the investment so the Sipp can be closed and further fees prevented.
The investment – Cape Verde-based The Resort Group – had been sold to clients in combination with Rowanmoor Sipps by regulated advice firm CIB Life and Pensions Limited and its appointed representative RealSipp.
The Fos said Rowanmoor had received 1,387 introductions from CIB, which accounted for 26.9 per cent of all business received by the provider between 2009 and 2013. A quarter of these cases involved occupational pension transfers.
In January last year, the Fos was handling 886 complaints against Rowanmoor that involved due diligence, which rose to 1,000 last August.