With my background I do still take a keen interest in the SIPP complaints listed and I was horrified to read the headlines about the massive increase in SIPP complaints yet again. But what is really going on?
Well dig a little deeper into the figures and I think there is a story to be told.
• Overall the percentage of new pensions complaints remained at 3%, the same as last year
• SIPP complaints were up 37% on last year
• Personal pension complaints were down 38% on last year
So the question I have to ask is, are most pensions now being classed as a SIPP in the eyes of the FOS, the above leads me to believe so. This makes sense really, consumers are demanding more freedom and flexibility so more and more people will be opening something at least akin to a SIPP if in the SIPP profession we might argue that it is just a personal pension really.
Take the FCA definition of a SIPP: “an arrangement which forms all or part of a personal pension scheme, which gives the member the power to direct how some or all of the member's contributions are invested.” This to me sounds like the majority of pension scheme out there, even most occupational schemes offer some sort of choice about the way it is invested, even if there is a list of funds.
I am not saying that there aren’t SIPP complaints but I am saying that I don’t think we are in any worse place than this time last year, in fact I think with all the supervisions, capital adequacy requirements that the SIPP market is better than it has ever been.
The above again is only scratching the surface, less than half the pension complaints (all types of pension) are about the administration, with the same again about sales and advice. So some of this will be aimed clearly at providers and some will be aimed at advisers. The complaints about sales and advice have dropped a little, which can only be a good thing for consumers and I hope that this continues. Those about administration have risen as a percentage but there will always be complaints in this area and I feel a lot of this is because the complexity of scheme admin.
I am not trying to defend any area or lay blame at anyone’s door for complaints about pensions but I just feel that the headline figures never tell the whole story about these issues and try to look a bit deeper before judging.
Claire Trott, head of pensions strategy, Technical Connection Ltd