View more on these topics

Sunken treasure and truffle trees: FOS reveals quirkiest investment complaints

The Financial Ombudsman Service has revealed the top five alternative investments it has received complaints about in the past five years.

It says that while these investments could either be regulated or unregulated depending on the specific circumstances, they are likely to be considered as non-traditional.

Unregulated investments have been in the spotlight for much of this year due to two high profile court cases involving Berkeley Burke and Carey Pensions where the FCA has submitted evidence.

Previously Money Marketing has reported on unregulated investments such as Australian wheat, care homes and burial plots.

Some of the more unusual pension investments that consumers have complained about to the ombudsman service include:

  • Truffle trees – funds buy a number of trees whose roots are sprayed with a chemical to encourage the growth of truffles between the tree roots.
  • Sunken treasure – shares are bought in a business that traces sunken shipwrecks in the hope of recovering treasure.
  • Cambodian bio-fuels – plots of land in Cambodia were bought so that Jatropha trees could be grown to produce bio-fuels.
  • Burial plots –purchasing burial plots, with a promised return on investment when the plot is later sold.
  • Whiskey – an investment in maturing and appreciating whiskey, with a promised return on investment when the whiskey is later sold.

A spokeswoman for FOS says: “We’ve seen complaints where consumers are advised to transfer their pension fund into Sipps so that they can invest in unusual, sometimes high-risk schemes. Consumers need to make sure they are not rushed into making decisions about investments.

“Take time to get an expert view about your pension, either from a regulated financial adviser, or a free official source of information. If an investment sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”



Claimants to pursue Liberty Sipp over unregulated investments

A group of 27 investors is taking action against Liberty Sipp over allegations it was responsible for losses incurred from risky investments. Wixted & Co Solicitors has issued a case in the Circuit Commercial Court in Bristol against Liberty Sipp. The firm is also acting on behalf of investors in a claim against Berkeley Burke. […]


Advisers face deluge of marketing from potentially unregulated investments

Advisers are continuing to receive emails from fund groups and prop­erty managers guaranteeing unreal­istic returns on investments with little proof behind them. Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management managing director Yvonne Goodwin says the advertising of unrealistic offerings has increased since the end of 2017 to at least one questionable email every day. She says: “The risk […]


Nic Cicutti: Spectre of DB transfer scandal looms larger than ever before

New FCA findings suggest advisers should prepare for significantly higher FSCS contributions at least Like many adults in the latter half of their lives, my pecuniary affairs are complicated. Not only do I earn a living from multiple employers but my future retirement income is dependent on several sources of funding, which includes three separate […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Nicholas Pleasure 20th December 2018 at 4:09 pm

    I sense that this is the FOS attempting a jolly Christmas story. It’s not so amusing when you end up paying the FSCS for this nonsense.

  2. I wonder why it is only the products that get (rightly) criticised. What about the idiots who put their money there. (Clients and advisers alike).

    I well remember years ago whan I was the ‘financial agony aunt’ for the Daily Mirror and had to field qustions from the public. One in particular stands out:

    Q. “Dear Sir, why am I getting less interest on my savings this year than last?”

    A. Dear Madam, Because interest rates have gone down by 2%.

    It proves Katz’s Theorem No. 5:

    Where money is concerned, all things being equal, stupidity remains constant.

    • Q. “Dear Sir, why am I getting less interest on my savings this year than last?”

      A. Dear Madam, Because interest rates have gone down by 2%.

      It proves Katz’s Theorem No. 5:

      Where money is concerned, all things being equal, stupidity remains constant.

      How extremely condescending of you.

      Unfortunately there are vast numbers of people that dont understand basic finance and maths. We should not ridicule them because of their lack of education. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  3. One man’s “quirky” is another man’s “total scam.”

  4. Anybody interested in buying a Magic Money Tree?

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm