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FOS rules Chase de Vere wrong to put 65% of client’s SIPP in UCIS

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04/09/2014
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has ruled national adviser Chase de Vere gave unsuitable advice when it recommended a client put most of his pension in high risk unregulated schemes just six years before he retired.

Mr H invested £145,000 across three unregulated collective investment schemes (UCIS) – £100,000 in Premier Diversified Property, £15,000 in Premier Property Options and £30,000 in Matrix Bastion – in 2007, on the advice of his adviser.

Chase de Vere had judged him to have an attitude to risk of six out of 10, or “more than moderate”.

All three funds have run into trouble since then.

Redemptions from Premier Diversified Property and Matrix Bastion were suspended in 2008.

The Premier Property Options fund was suspended in 2012.

Mr H contacted Chase de Vere in 2012 to complain that he felt the advice given to him was negligent.

He argued the assessment of his risk profile was inadequate, that the adviser had failed to diversify his advice, and that he had not acted within the regulator’s rules around recommending UCIS.

Chase de Vere fought the claim, saying that Mr H had appropriate investment experience – having worked in financial services -, that the investment brochure explained the risk involved, and the poor fund performance did not mean the advice was unsuitable.

The FOS disagreed, with both an adjudicator and finally an ombudsman ruling that Chase de Vere had exposed Mr H to an “unnecessary level of risk”, particularly given he was just six years from retirement when the investments were made.

It said that Chase de Vere should not have even marketed such investments to Mr H, which are considered by the regulator to be unsuitable for the general public.

At 65 per cent, the overall weighting of high risk investments within Mr H’s SIPP was “inappropriate” and in itself a justification to uphold the complaint, regardless of Mr H’s investment experience, it added.

The regulator recommended in 2010 that good practice is to invest no more than 5 per cent of a portfolio in UCIS-style investments.

Chase de Vere must now put Mr H back in the position he had not followed the adviser’s advice, plus 8% simple interest.

The national must also pay £200 for the distress and inconvenience it has caused.

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