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SIPP complaints to FOS still on the up

30 August 2017. Published by Rachel Ford, Senior Associate

Complaints to the FOS about SIPPs continue to rise, having sky rocketed in the first quarter of 2017.

The FOS published its August newsletter showing statistics about the complaints it has received in Q1 of 2017.
The FOS received a total of 135,779 enquiries. Interestingly, 678 of these were in relation to SIPPs with 521 received as new cases and 181 having been referred to the Ombudsman. The data shows that SIPP complaints continue to be on the rise with no sign of the increase slowing down.
The statistics show a rise of more than 50% when compared with the same period in 2016, when the FOS received 427 complaints in relation to SIPPs. Of the 427 complaints received by the FOS in Q1 of 2016, 328 of these were new cases and 113 were referred to the Ombudsman. The increase is only expected to continue, with the FSCS confirming in January its intention to raise a £36million interim levy to fund an unexpected number of SIPP claims.
It is also clear that the FOS is treating these complaints seriously, having upheld 50% of the complaints in Q1 of 2017 and 66% of the complaints in Q1 of 2016.  Firms will take this as evidence that the cases are arguable and it is not unreasonable to defend SIPP complaints.

The data reflects a large number of complaints we are seeing about SIPP advice arising for a number of different reasons. These relate to unauthorised introducer issues, non-standard investments and issues with the valuation of assets held within SIPPs. There are numerous important issues to be decided by FOS; both in respect of its jurisdiction over SIPP complaints and its approach to the merits, particularly questions of underlying investment suitability.