Heritage sought insolvency this week after a number final decisions issued by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) against the company expected to cost at least £600,000 in redress.
Heritage was roundly criticised by the Financial Ombudsman Service over a series of judgements.
In one of the most recent upheld judgements earlier this year a ‘Miss C’ lost £228,000 when her defined benefit pensions were transferred to a SIPP investing in non-mainstream investments, including Caribbean property, carbon credits, ‘green plantations’ and farmland in South America and Europe. She is believed to have lost all or most of her money when the investments failed.
A complaint by Miss C to the Financial Ombudsman was upheld in January after she complained that, before allowing her to open a self-invested personal pension, Heritage Pensions Limited did not carry out the appropriate checks on either the adviser who recommended and introduced the transaction or on the investments in the SIPP.
Miss C, a self-employed 49-year-old, intended to retire at 60. She was advised by an adviser to transfer her secure defined benefit pensions worth £228,000 into “illiquid, esoteric” investments to be held in a SIPP.
She had a defined benefit final salary scheme and two defined contribution plans, with a total value of just under £228,000. She was recommended by her adviser, TailorMade Independent Limited, to transfer much of her pension money into SIPP schemes. One of TailorMade’s sister companies, TailorMade Alternative Investments Limited (TAI), acted to promote alternative investments; typically illiquid, esoteric investments – including in Harlequin Property, Green Oil Plantations Ltd and Food Water and Energy SA. TAI was not regulated by the FSA/FCA.
The Ombudsman’s report said: “Sadly, the investments all appear to have failed. And it is highly likely Miss C has lost all, or almost all, of the money she invested.”
This week the directors of Heritage appointed Paul Williams and Edward Bines of Kroll Advisory as joint liquidators.
Heritage’s SIPP book was sold to PSG SIPP in November when Heritage stopped administering any personal pension schemes. Heritage no longer administers any personal pension schemes. The FCA said because of this customers who held a Heritage SIPP are not affected by the liquidation.
Any customers of Heritage are advised to contact PSG SIPP if they have any questions. They can also consider making a claim for compensation though the Financial Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FCA said that all customers should also remain alert to the possibility of fraud if they are approached by third parties.
Based on the insolvency advice, the directors of Heritage recognised the firm was insolvent and made the decision to place it into liquidation. The FCA said this was due to the firm being unable to pay the redress due from the FOS final decisions on due diligence completed by the firm prior to taking on some investments in its SIPP.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is now open to customer claims against Heritage.