A Claims Management Company
Total amount invested
Why did people invest in it?
Liberty SIPP allowed the inclusion of non-standard investments which promised higher than normal levels of return.
Why was it mis-selling?
Liberty SIPP failed to conduct appropriate due diligence into unregulated investments as part of their SIPPs.
Potential value of cases
Liberty SIPP was a SIPP provider that was founded in the autumn of 2007 by Ian Currie and John Fox, both of whom were highly experienced in the financial services and SIPP industry. They claimed that pensions were too impersonal, and were littered with the “frustration of small print, hidden charges, impersonal service and literature written in confusing “pension speak”.” Their innovative approach was to build pensions using an online application process that they claimed could be completed “within 10 minutes.”
They heavily emphasised the potential financial benefits of a SIPP, and how it could be tailored easily to personal circumstances, and with a large number of positive reviews visible on their website, there was no reason for a consumer to doubt their claims.
Between 2011 and 2013, Liberty SIPP allowed the inclusion of large investments into particularly risky non-standard options. These included the Ethical Forestry scheme, which has since sparked a major investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office that remains underway as of Summer 2019. The inclusion of these investments and others led to Liberty SIPP topping the Financial Conduct Authority’s complaints data for the first half of the financial year 2018, with 44.8 complaints per 1000 policies in force. Of these complaints, 43.8% were upheld by the Ombudsman service.
Despite these complaints, Liberty was able to post pre-tax profits of £506,000 in May 2018. By October however, it was revealed that Liberty SIPP had sold their client book to the Embark Group, through their subsidiary EBS Pensions. Notably, Embark used their financial clout to only purchase the assets of Liberty SIPP, not the company itself. This means that even where Embark is profiting from the SIPPs themselves, if allegations of mis-selling are raised, liability will fall on the now defunct Liberty SIPP.
As Liberty has since entered liquidation, any fines for mis-selling conducted by them will fall on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). It has raised serious ethical questions, as if a smaller firm had purchased Liberty, they would likely have acquired the liabilities for Liberty as well as its assets.
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