FSCS pay out £39.3 million on GPC SIPP claims

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has paid out almost £40 million to former Sipp clients of GPC with still more to follow.

The scheme has received 1,213 claims against the defunct provider and has paid out £39.3 million on 888 successful cases.

There are 218 claims still under investigation and 107 have been unsuccessful.

Failed investments

The former Guardian Pension Consultants went into administration in February of this year after almost 800 claims for compensation for failed investments were registered.

Administrators Smith and Williamson revealed that the firm had debts of £2.4 million of which £68,525 had been recovered, but added there was little chance of any more money becoming available.

Problems

The firm had experienced problems with the failure of many of the schemes it had invested clients’ money into, including a £400 million luxury hotel development by Harlequin Properties which was largely never built.

The FSCS declared the firm in default in February and, as well as paying out £39.3 million already, is continuing to deal with more than 200 claims it has already received with the expectation of still more being made in the near future.

Mis-selling

The mis-selling of Sipps (self-invested personal pensions) has emerged as a growing problem since the new pension freedoms were introduced in 2015.

The freedoms gave individuals the opportunity to cash in all or part of their pension and either spend the cash or invest it in a different company or companies.

High risk

Many people turned to investment advisors who suggested they place their cash into high risk, non-standard investments which promised higher returns, but did not warn them of the level of risk they were exposing themselves to.

Now many of those investments have become illiquid, meaning the investors have lost all the money their advisors put in.

Rescue fund

Fortunately the FSCS was set up as a lifeboat fund, enabling investors in such a position to recoup most of their losses if they could prove the Sipp had been mis-sold to them.

However, payments can only be made once the scheme is satisfied the Sipp provider does not have the resources to pay its debts and is declared in default.

GPC is only one of a number of Sipp providers who have been declared in default. The FSCS has also received 2,000 claims against two other failed Sipp providers – Berkeley Burke and Liberty – as well as a number of other complaints about smaller firms.