Hello, I’m Tom. Not the previous Tom who’s written this update and is famous for his height and pensions knowledge, but Tom of the Ellis variety who’s considerably less well-known for his pensions wisdom and more for his editorship of Professional Adviser in a past life.

Even with my limited pensions wisdom, it’s not escaped my notice that the SIPP market is receiving some negative attention (again) with the most recent news that Hartley Pensions has entered administration. Now I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of that specifically – I’m sure many column inches over the next while will feature the words “high risk non-standard investments” – but a fair few firms have fallen by the wayside over the years and left the FSCS and the rest of the industry to mend reputations and help many thousands of out-of-pocket consumers.

I expect in the eyes of the public who are exposed to this stuff, the rest of the financial services industry gets tarnished when firms go to the wall and people lose money. Whether it be the high-profile court cases or the constant barrage of bad news from the FSCS as claims have racked up and payouts have grown, the outcome is the same. Financial Services industry: Bad. It makes all our jobs that much harder.

It seems to me it’s time for change in the SIPP market and, to be fair, most of the issues seen by SIPPs now are what one might call legacy problems; I doubt there are any providers out there allowing the kind of free-flowing asset accumulation of non-standard assets that we’ve seen in the past.

The sector has an opportunity now to forge a new path, perhaps one littered with fewer unregulated investments and mapped out more cautiously with greater due diligence. Consumer Duty might be the piece of regulation to help ensure the sector does make the right decision at this crucial fork in the road. The wide-sweeping incoming regulation will ensure greater accountability and, combined with SM&CR, allow greater powers for the FCA to crackdown on individuals within organisations who may put customers in harm’s way.

This neatly leads us into the news from yesterday that the regulator is proposing new redress calculations for unsuitable pension transfers and on Monday cracked down on high-risk investment adverts. One could look at all this action with a positive attitude and recognition that something is being done. Or one could recall the words horse, stable, bolted. I’ll let you be the judge on this fine Wednesday.

And so, back to SIPP. Regulation is one thing, but the market itself might need someone within its ranks to stand up and tell the sector what it must do to get it where it needs to be. Some positive self-recognition and self-regulation might be a good thing to see, and soon.


  • Speaking of consumer duty, here’s a Podcat from Tom McPhail and Mike Barrett on just that.
  • Some interesting techy things going on between a platform and a cashflow modelling firm that should save advisers time and hassle. Could well be a trend that develops across the advice tech space.
  • This week’s music choice is inspired by the Lionesses’ glorious Euros victory at the weekend. This song – Champion – was released by DJ Bravo after the all-rounder’s West Indian cricket team won the 2016 T20 World Cup. Very weird, very catchy, and even has a cheesy dance. Perhaps the Lionesses will record their own tune in time to become Christmas No1 or something equally bizarre.

Thanks for reading.