Rockingham Retirement has taken down its website and temporarily closed its advice arm to new business after the FSA suggested it conduct a full review of its systems and controls during a recent visit, this week’s Money Marketing reveals.
In March, Money Marketing flagged up adviser concerns that the firm was understating the risks of traded life settlements in its marketing literature for the retirement tri-investment account. Last week, MM revealed Rockingham had increased the risk rating on its Rita Sipp to medium from low to medium.
During its visit, which was part of a wider probe into traded life settlements, the FSA reviewed a sample of Rockingham’s case files. The regulator is expected to report on its findings and outline if Rockingham is required to take any action before the end of the month.
The firm’s direct arm, which only offers annuities, is still open to business and the Annuity Clearing House, which is run as a separate company, is unaffected.
Director Gary Forster says: “The FSA visited us a week or two ago. It has not formally advised us of anything but it suggested we review our website and temporarily suspend new business while we do a full review of our systems and controls. That is where we are at. We are awaiting the FSA’s formal report and will obviously take any actions they set out.”
The Rockingham literature, highlighted by advisers in March, stated: “There is a small element of risk but the level of risk is probably significantly less than the risks you have taken in the past with your pension fund and the rewards are quite significant.”
The firm recently added the Metlife 10-year guaranteed income bond to its Rita product, which previously offered a cash deposit account, Prudential’s with-profits trustee investment plan and the Arm assured income plan – a life settlement fund paying fixed interest.
Rockingham said last week that the Arm product was not being promoted temporarily as its jurisdiction was being transferred to Ireland.
An FSA spokesman says:“We do not comment on individual firms.”