Miss S - London & Colonial SIPP and The Resort Group

Miss S came to us in 2015 concerned about the advice she’d been given to transfer her Defined Benefit pension into a SIPP with London & Colonial.

London & Colonial Services Limited is a pension provider. In 2016, it was bought by the STM group who also bought a major stake in Carey Pensions (now Options Pensions).

We obtained all the relevant information and conducted our investigations which showed Miss S had a valid complaint against London & Colonial Services Ltd.

We believed this case was an obvious example of the concerns expressed by the FSA (now FCA) in the 2009 that SIPP operators were not following or carrying out certain principles.

Here’s how we helped her make a successful claim.

Background on how Miss S was mis-sold a SIPP

After she’d attended a will conference in 2011, Miss S was contacted by The Resort Group (TRG) and invited to a pension presentation in London.

It was explained to Miss S that she’d be better off transferring into a SIPP and investing into the Llana Beach Hotel investment. As it would produce far greater returns than her deferred Defined benefit pension scheme.

The key selling points were that she’d receive a higher pension fund at retirement. And she was led to believe there’d be little or no risks with the investments and that there were guarantees.

This was important to Miss S as she wanted to make sure her children would be looked after in the event of her death.

Following the presentation, TRG facilitated everything and explained that she’d be referred to CIB Life and Pensions, RealSIPP and L&C as part of a transfer package.

CIB Life and Pensions

CIB (Life & Pensions) were a regulated financial advice firm based in Kent and RealSIPP were its Appointed Representatives between 2010- and 2015.

They acted as “administrators” of SIPP investment packages, in particular those involving The Resort Group.

Miss S wasn’t an experienced or sophisticated investor, or a high-net worth client. She didn’t understand her pension and wanted professional advice. She was offered the chance to take control of her pension, receive advice and dramatically improve her benefits.

Miss S placed her trust in all of the parties involved. She had no idea of what she was giving up and the complexity of what she was about to invest in.

In fact, as a result of this transfer Miss S lost safe guarded benefits that would have provided for her dependents in the event of her death. And would have provided a considerable amount of income for at retirement.

What is The Resort Group?

The Resort Group (TRG) is an investment in luxury holiday resorts in Cape Verde which was founded in 2007.  It consists of five hotel developments and resorts include Tortuga Beach, Dunas Beach, Llana Beach and TUI Sensimar Cabo Verde.

TRG sold luxury hotel rooms to UK consumers, either as whole entities or as fractional share ownership in a company. The Resort Group wasn’t regulated by the financial services regulator and is considered a high-risk investment. Which would likely be unsuitable for the average investor.

Unfortunately, it has been recommended to thousands of UK investors, usually as part of a transfer into a SIPP pension. More than 2.5k complaints have been received by the FSCS in respect of The Resort Group involving 50 different advice firms.

This case involves investments in The Resort Group’s Llana Beach holdings.

Our complaint to London & Colonial

We issued a letter of complaint to London & Colonial Services Ltd (L&C) on behalf of our client Miss S in September 2015.

Our complaint concerned the due diligence London & Colonial Services Limited undertook before accepting Miss S’ application. This resulted in it establishing and administrating what was clearly a detrimental SIPP and allowing her to invest in The Resort Group’s Llana Beach Hotel Resort.

Further, that Miss S has suffered loss as a result of this.

London & Colonial sent the final response letter in November 2015 rejecting our client’s complaint.

So, we referred the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Financial Ombudsman Service decision against London & Colonial

An investigator at the Financial Ombudsman Service reviewed Miss S’s complaint and concluded it should be upheld.

London & Colonial Services Limited didn’t agree with the investigator.

A second investigator reviewed the complaint, they also said it should be upheld.

Amongst other things, they highlighted that the pattern of business being introduced by RealSIPP presented a high risk of consumer detriment. And London & Colonial should then have declined Miss S’s business from RealSIPP.

And, had it done so, it’s most likely Miss S wouldn’t then have opened a SIPP and transferred her DBS.

In July 2022 the Financial Ombudsman Service upheld our complaint on behalf of Miss S and she was awarded compensation.

You can read the full decision as published on the Financial Ombudsman Service website here

Was my SIPP pension mis-sold?

If you think you may have been affected by SIPP mis-selling and would like to know if you have case we can help.

We are happy to provide an initial assessment and answer your questions.

There’s no pressure to use our service if you do have a case. But if you would like our help – check out what our clients have to say about us on Trustpilot!

Key Facts

PARTIES INVOLVED - London & Colonial / CIB Life & Pensions and RealSIPP
INVESTMENT - The Resort Group

We win more than 9 out of 10 claims

The cost of our service is 15% + VAT on the total monies awarded for a successful claim. Our cost is also priced capped at one of the lowest rates.

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Important Information!

You are not required to use our services to pursue your claim. You can also seek further advice or shop around subject to any time limits within which a claim must be made.

It is possible for you to present the claim for free, either to the firm or person against whom you wish to complain or to the statutory ombudsman (Financial Ombudsman Service or Pension Ombudsman Service) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, whichever is applicable to your claim.