Why The Choice Of SIPP Investments Is Diminishing

Why The Choice Of SIPP Investments Is Diminishing
Galapagos by Julian Cohen. Why?

If you think ‘self-invested’ means YOU decide what SIPP investments to hold, think again!

Competition And The Internet Often Increase Choice, But Not, It Seems, When It Comes To SIPP Investments

SIPP Investments

The following list is the FCA's list of standard SIPP investments. The new additions are in red.

• Bank account deposits
• Cash
• Cash funds
• Corporate bonds
• Exchange traded commodities
• Government & local authority bonds and other fixed interest stocks
• Physical gold bullion
• Investment notes (structured products)
• Shares in Investment trusts
• Managed pension funds
• National Savings and Investment products
• Permanent interest bearing shares (PIBs)
• Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
• Shares listed on:
the Alternative Investment Market;
the London Stock Exchange; or
a recognised overseas investment exchange.
• UK commercial property
• Units in Regulated collective investment schemes

Removed are:
• Unit trusts
• Open-ended investment companies

'Standard' SIPP Investments

In the last couple of years, the SIPP industry has been in limbo, as we highlighted early last year in an article entitled How The Regulator Is Restricting Choice.  But at last, the long-awaited report from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been published. 

The FCA has been looking at SIPP investments in detail, deciding which are classed as 'standard' SIPP investments, and which are not.  It’s also concluded that SIPP operators will need to hold more cash in their businesses if they allow their clients to hold SIPP investments that are not on the standard list.  Known as ‘capital adequacy’, the cash is to ensure that if a SIPP operator gets into difficulty, it has enough money to enable there to be an orderly handover of the SIPP administration to another SIPP operator.

The FCA Has Unearthed Some Worrying Practices

Some SIPP operators’ approach to the due diligence of SIPP investments has been so lax, clients’ pension money has arguably been put at risk in a number of fraudulent schemes and others that are simply scams. 

Using its existing powers, the FCA has already stopped some SIPP operators accepting non-standard SIPP investments.  In order to prevent further problems, it’s been closing down independent financial advisers who advise on non-standard SIPP investments, but who aren’t treating their customers fairly.

It’s A Blunt Instrument, And There Are Unintended Consequences

According to Hyman Wolanski, managing director of a smaller SIPP operator called Sippchoice, the FCA’s new calculations for capital adequacy are skewed in favour of larger firms.  He’s calculated that a firm 16 times larger than his, based on assets, would only need to hold four times the amount of capital his firm would need to hold.

In relative terms, it’s the smaller firms that could be penalised.  Yet it’s often the smaller firms that offer bespoke services to their clients, allowing them to invest in a full range of standard and non-standard SIPP investments.

Given the FCA’s power to close down regulated businesses, it’s not surprising the number of SIPP operators willing to stray outside the standard list of SIPP investments has reduced appreciably.  The pattern is set to continue, for the FCA has given SIPP operators a couple more years until the new capital adequacy rules come fully into force.

It’s predicted that SIPP operators that don’t have access to capital and those that want to keep things simple will focus on only on standard SIPP investments, reducing choice for their clients.  However, those SIPP operators that are well capitalised and who believe that a SIPP should offer a full range of regulated and unregulated SIPP investments will survive. 

In fact, it’s likely that SIPP operators committed to offering a full range of standard and non-standard SIPP investments could do extremely well as the market for SIPPs offering full diversification shrinks. 

What You Should Do If Your SIPP Operator Restricts Your SIPP Investments

If you want to look at SIPP investments off the standard list that focus Property, Peer-To-Peer Lending and even trading Forex, and your SIPP operator’s opinion is ‘computer says no’, it’s time to move your money to a SIPP operator that is willing to treat you and your money with the respect you deserve.

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