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.
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.”