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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes we can.

In the very least we will be able to outline your options even if they do not involve us in providing the solution. 

We will make the complex clear, but to do so you will need a no obligation free of charge consultation with one of our case managers. Start the process on our enquiry page - just enter your name and contact details, and you will receive one of our information packs followed by a call.

It is an investment that cannot easily or quickly be sold and turned into cash. It could include overseas hotel rooms, interests in farmland and forestry, self-storage units, shares and bonds in unquoted companies, plots in land-banking schemes and many others. In fact, it is any investment other than those which can be readily bought and sold.

Whatever you may have been told, almost all non-standard investments are high-risk. Unless you are quite wealthy, acquiring non-standard investments as a way of saving for your retirement is likely to be unwise. Additionally, many of the non-standard investments acquired through SIPPs have not performed as promised, often failing altogether.

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulates both the SIPP operators and the Financial Advisers (FAs) that may have advised on SIPPs. If a Financial Adviser advised you, then they may have broken FCA rules. Therefore, the SIPP operators may also have broken FCA rules. In the year 2000 Parliament created special bodies through which victims of bad practice by Financial Advisers and SIPP operators can obtain compensation.

It is likely that they advised on opening your SIPP and on your moving existing pensions into it, without properly assessing whether a SIPP was suitable for you. Equally without conducting correct assessment of the non-standard investments introduced into your SIPP.

The SIPP operator may have accepted your or your adviser's instructions to purchase non-standard investments, knowing that you were receiving bad advice, or the advice was given unlawfully. The SIPP operator may not have conducted adequate due diligence on the investments. Not exercising sufficient duty of care.

Some providers of non-standard investments may have acted criminally; and it is possible that some Financial Advisers also did so. Simple Claims Assistance will report any suspicion of criminality to the appropriate authority. But Simple Claims Assistance's primary focus is on the civil claims you have against regulated entities, especially Financial Advisers and SIPP operators.

The distributors of most non-standard investments were non-regulated agents. Most of them acted in good faith, believing the investments were sound. There is unlikely to be a case against them. Moreover, many of them have only limited personal assets and may have sold many millions of pounds worth of investments. If their clients took legal action against them, the clients would be unlikely to receive much in the form of damages and would certainly have incurred large legal costs which they may not recoup.

There was a boom from 2009 until 2013 of people opening SIPPs and then using them as vehicles for non-standard investments. No one has attempted a precise calculation of the number, but it may be between 30,000 and 60,000. Most are now suffering significant losses on their investments.

Depending on the precise nature of the claim, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) will judge the claim's merits. However, if the relevant Financial Adviser or SIPP operator has gone out of business, the claim will pass to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The principle for determining compensation is the difference between what your previous pension funds would now be worth if you had not transferred them into a SIPP, and your SIPP's current value.

The main problem in valuing a SIPP is attributing a value to the non-standard investments within it. The FSCS has adopted a policy of valuing many non-standard investments at £0, and then assigning to itself any future revenue those investments receive up to the value of the compensation paid. The FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) generally requires the Financial Adviser to buy out the non-standard investment at a commercial value, which is paid into the SIPP.

Yes, there are maximums to the benefits. To review the details, please see our benefits page.

Yes, you may be entitled to make two claims, one against your Financial Adviser, and the other against the SIPP provider. But only to a combined maximum amount.

There are 3 basic steps.

  1. The first step is assessing your claim. You provide Simple Claims Assistance with the documentation you have. Based on this and the questionnaire we will complete with you and any information we obtain on your behalf from third parties, Simple Claims Assistance will assess whether you have a claim and its potential extent.
  2. The second step is preparing your claim. Simple Claims Assistance drafts the claim, with the legal arguments supporting it, and attaches the relevant evidence.
  3. The third step is submission. Where the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider is still in existence, Simple Claims Assistance submits the claim to them; and, if they do not offer proper compensation, we forward the claim to the relevant statutory bodies. If the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider no longer exist, Simple Claims Assistance submits the claim to FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme).

FSCS deals with claims usually within 3-6 months. Where the claim must first go to the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider, then to the relevant statutory body, the whole process is likely to take substantially longer.

Normally the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) will pay you personally. FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) will normally instruct the company to pay you personally if the monies are unable to be paid directly into your SIPP.

Simple Claims Assistance does not advise on legal proceedings through the normal courts. If you are contemplating litigation, you should bear in mind three points.

  1. You may have to pay your own lawyer substantial fees; and even if you win, the court is unlikely to allow you to reclaim your fees in full from your opponents.
  2. If you lose, you may have to pay some or all of your opponent's costs.
  3. Parliament has set up FSCS, FOS, and the Pensions Ombudsman to enable people to receive compensation without costly legal proceedings.

Simple Claims Assistance has expertise in all the relevant areas of management and the preparation of cases. If a case is unclear, we may consult others with legal expertise. In addition, Simple Claims Assistance can call on people with experience of the SIPP industry, with non-standard investments and with how Financial Advisers function; and their knowledge can be invaluable in making the argument for compensation.

You sign a simple contract, known as the Individual Client Contract, written in plain English.

We charge what is known as a 'conditional fee', because it is only paid on the condition that you receive money back. The percentage we charge is 18% inclusive of VAT. The actual fee is dependent on how much our work gets you back. Please see the contract for details and the brochure for illustrations.

A conditional fee is only payable if and when you receive compensation. The fee is a percentage of that compensation.

Once you have entered the contract, a Simple Claims Assistance representative will go through the Client Questionnaire with you, which will provide us all the information about you to make a successful claim. Simple Claims Assistance treats all the information in the strictest confidence.

Yes. The Simple Claims Assistance representative will also guide you as to which documents you must provide. These are documents in your possession relating to your SIPP operator, your Financial Adviser (if applicable), the investments you acquired, plus any documents connected with any lawyer or other claims company.

Yes. A Simple Claims Assistance representative will be in touch with you to ensure you fully understand the contract and to guide you in providing the documents.

If you change from another lawyer or a claims company to Simple Claims Assistance, you may have to pay fees for the work that the lawyer or claims company has already done on your behalf. In general, it is better to stick with the firm you have already engaged.

No, you are free to seek compensation without expert help. Indeed, the statutory bodies - The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO), and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) deal with many cases where the victim does not have expert help. However, if the issues in your case are relatively complex and the evidence is not always readily available, this is where Simple Claims Assistance's expertise can help.

Of course, you may shop around. Simple Claims Assistance believes it offers an exceptionally high-quality service at a very reasonable price.

Yes, at any time you are free to go elsewhere for advice and help. You may want advice to supplement the work Simple Claims Assistance is doing. Or, if you become dissatisfied with Simple Claims Assistance, you are free to terminate your contract with Simple Claims Assistance and engage an alternative claims company - or act on your own behalf. However, this may well incur a cancellation charge - please see the contract for further details.

Yes, you should always keep originals of documents you supply to Simple Claims Assistance, just in case you need them again in the future. You should also read carefully and retain all documents that Simple Claims Assistance supplies.

You will mainly be passive in the claim process. However, when Simple Claims Assistance has drafted your claim, you will need to read it, suggesting any amendments. Additionally, if your Financial Adviser or SIPP operator makes an offer to settle your claim, which is below the full amount being claimed, Simple Claims Assistance will ask you whether you wish to accept that offer.

Simple Claims Assistance will keep you regularly informed of the progress of your complaint/claim.

Yes, you are free to withdraw at any time, subject to paying Simple Claims Assistance for any work done at the time of cancellation. Please see contract for details.

Disclaimer

The information on these FAQs is accurate to the best of Simple Claims Assistance's knowledge. However, these FAQs do not form part of the Individual Client Contract that Clients enter; and Simple Claims Assistance Ltd cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies, or any statements that may unwittingly mislead the Client.