I’m Arthur Peacock from Peterborough. I’m a 59-year-old engineer working in a factory that manufactures bottled drinks. Through Pension Claim Consulting Ltd I was awarded £113,209 compensation by The Financial Ombudsman, after poor advice when transferring my Final Salary Pension. This is what happened…
I was cold called by Lesley, a financial adviser, in 2009. She asked some questions about my pension saying her company, Commercial Land and Property, could arrange a transfer into a new investment via Carey Pensions which would make much higher returns than my current pension.
Lesley sent me some graphs and reports with very good, solid returns. I went through CL&P’s website, it all seemed legitimate with pictures of employees and directors. The brochures she sent out further explained the returns I’d get. It all made sense, especially as my current pension had been underperforming.
Lesley’s advice was to place half my money into Store First, a storepod scheme guaranteeing 12 per cent annual return and half into an Australian Farmland buying scheme via something called Gas Verdant. They both turned out to be high risk investments, but I wasn’t told that.
Little did I know that Lesley’s husband, Terence Wright, was a director of CL&P and had recently been blacklisted by the Financial Services Authority, now known as the Financial Conduct Authority. Neither he or Lesley were regulated financial advisers. I had no clue about the world of finance and all the associations it never occurred to me to check such lists. I didn’t know they existed. I doubt many people do.
Long story short, CL&P arranged for Carey Pensions to hold my investments and transfer the £78,156 value into a Carey Self Invested Personal Pension. I did some extra checks on Carey Pensions, they had some positive online reviews. However, over the next few years my error to transfer my pension to Carey would end up being the worst decision of my life.
Alarms bells should have rung just on the quality of paper the Carey annual report was printed on, it was wafer thin. A far cry from the glossy broacher CL&P had sent me, filled with huge steel storage containers and beautiful shots of the Australian countryside. Store First later used a guy from Top Gear (Quentin Wilson) on their adverts so you can see how it all seemed so attractive to invest.
Anyway, for the first couple of years or so I was satisfied with what they were telling me on the phone, the investments were doing well, the adviser at Carey would tell me whenever I called. I got a bit twitchy when I realised I wasn’t getting many statements or have any physical proof of my investments. I called Carey and asked if I could go and see the three storage pods my money had gone on. They were only in Leeds. The lady on the other end of the phone said I wouldn’t be able to see them due to security issues. From then on, I began to call more often to try and get a better understanding of what was going on with my pension, but I was always fobbed off with jargon.
Worried, I contacted Pension Claim Consulting and spoke with Sarah. After some investigating, she called back and said she was the bearer of bad news. The likelihood was I’d received misleading advice and that my investments would be worth very little.
We began a claim against Carey Pensions in 2016 as it was clear they’d not acted in my best interests. While the claim was being processed, I gave Carey a call. I was scared I wouldn’t win the claim and wanted to take matters into my own hands. The call handler named Helen told me there was indeed ‘bad news’, both investments had lost virtually all of their value. She kept saying: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She then told me I still owned the storage pods (or there was a buy back option) and I could sell them and would get a good price if I used this auctioneer she was about to recommend.
When I called the auctioneer, I was told I’d get £30 for the three storage pods. THIRTY POUNDS! I’d invested £39,000 in these blinking pods. My heart sank. Carey had poured my hard-earned retirement down the drain and all I had to show was £30. Oh and they were still charging hundreds in fees.
I don’t really want to think about the period of time the claim was going through although I will say Sarah was incredibly supportive. She was always on the end of the phone, however, I prepared myself for not winning the case, I felt that helpless.
The Financial Ombudsman finally found in my favour, agreeing with Sarah that Carey Pensions had not done enough research on CL&P and even when Carey had realised their oversights, they still went ahead with the investments. And, neither were the high-risk investments suitable for me, an ordinary saver, with a pension. High-risk investments are for wealthy folk who can afford to lose this kind of money, not people in my position.
In May I was awarded £113,209 that was the figure my original pension would have been worth had I never transferred. I can’t say I jumped for joy, it wasn’t like hitting the jackpot. This was my money in the first place. I felt mightily relieved though.
I later found out that lots of people from all kinds of backgrounds had lost their pensions via Store First and Gas Verdant, including police officers, surgeons and teachers. It didn’t make me feel better but it showed me I’d not been so gullible, as such, it was CL&P who had been underhand and Carey Pensions who had been reckless.
My funds have now been reinvested and thankfully, I can look forward to my retirement again.