Personal Pension Plan Decision Reference 2022-0067

Case OutcomeRejected
Subject MatterPersonal Pension Plan
Reference2022-0067
Date22 February 2022
Conducts Complained OfFailure to provide accurate investment information,Maladministration, Misrepresentation (pensions), Poor wording/ambiguity of policy
Finantial SectorInvestment
Decision Ref:
2022-0067
Sector:
Investment
Product / Service:
Personal Pension Plan
Conduct(s) complained of:
Failure to provide accurate investment information
Maladministration
Poor wording/ambiguity of policy
Misrepresentation (pensions)
Outcome:
Rejected
LEGALLY BINDING DECISION OF THE FINANCIAL SERVICES AND PENSIONS OMBUDSMAN
The complaint concerns the Complainant’s pension plan.
The Complainant’s Case
The Complainant says that her pension plan which is relevant to this complaint was sold to
her in 1991 and that, to date, the Provider has given her limited information on the
operation of her pension fund. The Complainant states that she has made complaints to the
Provider for several years, since she became concerned by the way in which it was
administering her pension fund. She argues that she has not received a satisfactory
resolution of these complaints.
The Complainant argues that her overall complaint is based on the fact that the Provider has
imposed conditions, penalties, fees and charges that are not allowed for, in the contract and
conditions.
The Complainant says that in February 2018, she made a formal complaint to the Provider
stating that, for reasons unknown to her, the Provider had either given her incorrect,
incomplete or no answers to the questions she had posed. The Complainant contends that
in the Provider’s final response letter dated 7 March 2018, it answered a selection of the
questions asked and that for others, it referred to Appendix 1 of its response, which was a
transaction history.
- 2 -
/Cont’d…
The Complainant submits that an enormous amount of time has been spent by her analysing
the 107 pages of data in the transaction history and reviewing the information she was
given. She says that she finds the Provider’s unwillingness to provide information very
concerning. The Complainant argues that the conclusion of this work caused her to realise
that the Provider has not provided correct information in response to many of her questions.
She argues that it has supplied confusing, inaccurate and incorrect information. Further, she
argues, the Provider has imposed, or proposes to impose, charges or restrictions not
contained in the contract or contract conditions.
The Complainant contends that the Provider has imposed charges and penalties not allowed
for in the contract and that she has suffered financial loss as a result. She argues that a
review of the transaction history has shown:
entire payments and part payments not credited to the fund,
fee increases not allowed for in the contract,
charges for which no explanation was given,
initial units sold at incredible discounts to the date relevant value,
multiple crediting and debiting of transactions,
substantial overcharging of the pension levy,
unexplained changes in initial units,
new payment charges not allowed for in the contract,
incorrect total amount of initial units purchased, and
incorrect total amount contributed to the plan.
The Complainant has made detailed arguments in respect of initial units being used as a
mechanism to recoup charges associated with the plan, such as commission, administration
and underwriting costs. She argues that these charges are shown as an early withdrawal
penalty but that the contract has no direct definition of an ‘initial unit’.
She highlights relevant clauses such as:
clause 2(n) (definition of a unit)
clause 14 (amount of annuity) and
clause 12 (determination of unit prices)
She argues that there is no mechanism in the contract for future charges and that the clause
dealing with the amount of annuity, does not refer to any of the penalty terms used by the
Provider. She argues that clause 12 has the impact of increasing the amount paid for each
unit by 5.26%, so a charge is levied on the purchase of each unit, which is separate from the
actual management charge. She argues that there is no clarity as to how the base unit values
are arrived at, or the discount to the unit value. She further argues that no information was
provided to her at the inception of the pension, in respect of the conditions concerning
inflation protector, the allocation mechanism or the charging mechanism.

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