As SIPP provider service levels remain under the microscope David Cook shares some of his experiences
A week can be a long time in pension administration. Here is my week for the end of June 2007.
Monday - a routine SIPP valuation for a client takes an interesting turn when we discover that some unit trusts have been mysteriously surrendered. After hours of telephone calls to the client, unit trust providers and SIPP provider, the SIPP provider eventually calls back and confirms:
"Ah yes sorry about that. Looks like, on our instruction, the unit trusts got encashed and we then transferred the funds directly to another client's SIPP. The other client is not one of yours and has now subsequently transferred his SIPP to a new SIPP provider. We think the mix up may be due to some similar sounding surnames for clients who had similar unit trust designation numbers."
Tuesday - I spend the day making calls to pension providers to check on progress of the transfer of a client's plan to a new pension provider. I make the first call to the transferring out provider and it is looking good as the provider tells me:
"We actually transferred the funds to the new provider 10 days ago."
However, things take a decided turn for the worse when I called the new provider who told me they hadn't yet received the funds.
This of course led to several more hours of telephone calls and then, late in the day, the transferring out provider calls back to confirm:
"Sorry about that. Looks like we may have got your client's old direct debit mandate for their own bank account confused with the destination of the bank account of the receiving scheme provider. As a result, we have in fact surrendered the client's fund directly into his own bank account."
Wednesday - I started the day making routine calls to a SIPP provider chasing investment of our client's funds transferred in from another provider into a proposed trustee investment bond. However, the call threatens to become very complex when the provider tells me:
"Yes, we had the transfer value funds in ages ago but my records don't show if the funds have actually been invested. I will need to check and come back to you."
This is followed up by another call later that day when the provider calls back to confirm:
"Sorry about that. The different teams working on this have got their wires crossed and have not communicated with each other. As a result, the funds have not been invested in the trustee investment plan".
Thursday - I feel like there's no such thing as a routine call any more. We are checking progress on investment of a client's funds. System problems mean that our client has had funds still invested in cash despite numerous written instructions to invest in various funds. I have to wait the usual 30 minutes to speak to the provider and when we eventually get through I'm greeted with the following:
"Sorry - those funds still remain in cash. Your case was actually due to be dealt with but you see, what happened was, you complained. As a result, your case was moved from the top of the work to do queue and placed in the complaint queue. You should get a letter from us within seven days acknowledging your criticism and we will then try to resolve the issue itself." - Friday seems like a very long way away.
TIP-ped over the edge
Friday - I call a provider to check on an additional investment into an existing trustee investment plan (TIP) under a client's SIPP. We know the TIP provider has had the funds and we are simply waiting for the policy documentation. However, nothing is simple as the provider informs us;
"Yeah we had the cheque some time ago. However we can't invest the monies because we don't know the SIPP it is coming from for source of funds information and we don't know whether the SIPP been approved by the Revenue. Sorry about that."
I then plead; "It is an existing TIP invested with you for last three years, the SIPP provider is a household name in the pensions industry and you send details of the plan to the SIPP provider. You know the SIPP is approved otherwise you wouldn't have set up the TIP only three years ago in the first place and this is merely an additional contribution to the existing plan!
The TIP provider counters: "Ah it may have been approved but is it a registered pension scheme mate and of course, there have been various changes to SIPP providers themselves."
That was the week that was! - I appreciate this is only my side of the story from IFA land but it appears to me that we all have a long way to go to become more accurate in the field of pensions administration.
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