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Providers call for tighter SSAS regulation

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Pension providers are calling for tighter regulation of small self-administered schemes as they report growing levels of non-standard investments entering the market.

Currently, SSAS are regulated by The Pensions Regulator as occupational schemes while Sipps fall under the FCA’s remit.

Mattioli Woods operations director Mark Smith says riskier non-standard assets have been moving away from increasingly tightly controlled Sipps.

He says: “We’ve been speaking to the FCA about this. Both Sipps and SSAS are regulated but the way they are regulated is hugely different.

“The FCA is very prescriptive around areas like non-standard assets and is very clear about what it wants to see from Sipp providers.

“But there’s nothing like that for SSAS. We’re seeing people move to SSAS for non-standard investments, so there needs to be a better way to regulate this part of the market.”

Dentons director of technical services Martin Tilley says: “SSAS are still the weak link where investment misappropriation might happen.

“The market needs a bit of help from FCA-regulated entities such as banks, which should only deal with SSAS with a fit and proper administrator.”

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. “[B]anks … should only deal with SSAS with a fit and proper administrator.” Er, why? Either a scheme is legit, or it isn’t.

    Don’t get me wrong; I completely agree with “SSAS are still the weak link where investment misappropriation might happen.” That’s very true since SIPPs have been tightened up – same people pushing the same stuff, just through a different vehicle.

    And banks SHOULD be looking out for financial crime (or out come the big sticks – just ask Barclays). But don’t suggest that banks should just blindly de-risk from a whole sector. Or do, if you’re looking to protect your own commercial self-interest…

  2. Adam, in fact several banks are already doing this. Barclays, Metro and Cater Allen for three will not operate a SSAS bank account unless they can be satisfied the scheme has a “fit and proper” scheme administrator. Since this is an HMRC requirement of continued registration of the scheme it is not unreasonable to suggest that banks, in fulfilling their TCF requirements should ensure the scheme of which they are banker is complying with these requirements.

    • We have a Cater Allen bank account which has received transfers to the SSAS from Aviva, Std Life and Transact ready to purchase a commercial property for the SSAS to develop for the business to occupy. Completion is today, but unlike the three transfers were due diligence took place before the transfers, Scottish Widows have refused to transfer and contimue to ask for inappropriate information by letter and refuse to speak directly to the adviser, trustees or SSAS admin company. They dont even put a contact nu,ber on their letters for the team dealong and will not take incomimg calls. Fund value for the tf from Scot Wids is under £10k, so their admin costs to Scot Wids of refusing to have a direct adult conversation with anyone in the food chain will exceed any kind of profit Scot Wids made from having this contract on their books in the first place and time could be better spent targetimg true penssion liberation. talk abpit a serious lack of common sense!

  3. Given that SSASs are required to have ‘fit and proper’ administrators now by virtue of FA(2004) as amended, suggesting that others should act as business prevention units is just the usual anti-competitive rot. We need HMRC to do their job properly, but schemes that are bona fide shouldn’t have such hassle opening a bank account.

  4. “Fit and proper” is good in principal, but there is little or no enforcement by HMRC for EXISTING SSAS’s. There are an estimated 20,000 + schemes out there , lots with butchers, bakers and candlestick makers as the “administrator” . Do they understand pension regulations and keep up-to-date with the constant change? Compulsory “professional administrator” would reduce risk for all these SSASs.

  5. MIB’s hit the nail on the head there chaps. HMRC are the ultimate regulator of uk pensions and it’s their fit & proper test for Scheme Administrators, so come on guys Chop! Chop!. Banks only provide a banking service to the Schemes, but they are so scared of more bad press that many have the requirement for an FCA regulated administrator to be involved before they’ll entertain dealing with a SSAS. This is ludicrous and basically means that they only see SIPP Providers as being fit & proper to administer SSAS’ (apart from both being Member Directed DC Schemes, they are different!!!). FCA Regulation isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ either, especially when there isn’t a relevant permission to hold. Plus, how often is the FCA’s fire fighting approach to regulation debated on here??? And how many FCA (so called) fit & proper firms commit huge crimes.
    Come on HMRC, get this approved Scheme Administrator list sorted and published ASAP, please!!!!

  6. The FCA has such a prescribed set of rules for SIPP Providers because of the Cap Ad implications. Please remember that SSAS’ are not tied to the Scheme Administrator like SIPPs are. They are a Single Trust and ‘Free Standing’.
    Here’s an idea, what about a simple amendment to the FA to require any investment adviser to a Scheme (or even specific to SSAS’) be completely Unconnected from the Scheme Administrator? Surely that’s the best approach?

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