An advert appeared yesterday on the Pension Play Pen Linked In Group. I am deeply suspicious. If you’re in our Group, you can see it here
I have meeting availability in London Central on Tues/Weds next week to discuss our pension route to market, process, systems and commercials. Availability is tight so please let me know as soon as possible
Nothing wrong with this… if I had the first clue about what was on offer, I might be interested. I checked out Save my Pension (a trading style of HCL consulting). They are lead generators.
This is what their company page told me..
We provide a free service to help you take control of your retirement provision.
Help you trace your preserved (also widely known as frozen) pension and, once located, provide you with a free review of its current status – Amount, charges being applied and the performance of your fund.
Whether you use our tracing service or already have all your information about your preserved pension we can provide you with details of an alternative occupational pension scheme you can compare and (should you decide) transfer your preserved pension(s) to.
Want advice on what to do with your pension? We can put you in touch with an independent financial adviser who will provide you with the advice you need.
So what is this alternative pension scheme? It is an occupational pension scheme called Audax. Audax has a sponsoring employer – a shell company called Refined By Ltd, situated close to Save my Pension’s Preston offices in Lancaster.
Because Refined By Ltd. sponsors the occupational scheme it is regulated
The Scheme is a Registered Scheme with HMRC in accordance with Part IV of the Finance Act 2004 under PSTR number 00817080RY.
The Scheme is registered with the Pensions Regulator in accordance with the Occupational pension Schemes (Scheme Administration) Regulations 1996 and Pensions Act 2004 under PSR number 12010036.
It has legitimacy though there is nothing substantial about the use of the word occupational.
The trustees of Audax are Audax Management, the investment managers a firm called Gallium (based in Sevenoaks) .
On closer inspection Gallium are involved in establishing UCIS investment structures and are involved in a wide range of activities – listed on their website. They are not investing the money, they are providing the structure for Audax Management to invest the money.
There is nothing about Save My Pension,Refined By, Audax or Gallium that I can point to as illegal. They have multiple registrations with the FCA and Gallium employs respected advisors and auditors.
However, I am far from satisfied with my due diligence;
Audax Management Ltd has been in existence for 8 months (company no 09197665). It is one of 2700 companies at its registered office- there are no details about its Directors or officers and it is the trustee of the pension.
The administration of the pension is through Gallium though the transfers seem to be operating through an IFA in East Sussex called Absolute Financial Management (trading as Blueprint for the purpose of administrating transfers). Blueprint shows as its Director – Mark Eaton – Mark is also a Director of Absolute Financial Management, BluePrint is registered at the same address as Audax.
There are many ways to provide yourself with financial security in retirement. I strongly suggest you stick to the trodden paths and think very hard about using services such as those outlined above.
Transparency is key to this and I am very concerned that people should know what they are doing. The alternative investment strategy suggested on the Audax website do not encourage me.
The Trustee has identified legal financing schemes as a potential alternative investment that satisfies the investment principles.
The UK legal system is an established market place from which many other legal systems around the world take their lead. The demand for funding in legal markets is growing and is unaffected by the core financial markets.
Nor am I greatly encouraged by the statements about the core strategy
The Scheme will invest in Multi-Manager investment schemes and products that are provided by, and managed by, leading investment houses and banks
Who the people are in Audax Management is not clear, they have no footprint on the web.
As to what all this costs the consumer, we are left only with the most general statement of intent, that it intends to achieve an investment return of 5% after fees and charges.
There are risk warnings, don’t expect to see a transfer value equivalent to what you paid in if you change your mind.
You may transfer out of the Scheme at any time, but please note you should consider investment in the Scheme as a long term investment. The Trustee would prefer Members to remain invested in the Scheme for a minimum of five years to allow the Investment Manager to build a diversified investment portfolio for all Members.
I hope this is not the route to market chosen by any of the members of our Pension Play Pen.
I don’t think Audax or Gallium are offering anything that gives me the remotest confidence. I can see Gallium use UCIS as an investment structure and know these have been disastrous for many private investors because of the lack of security offered by this vehicle. I can find out nothing about who Audax are – and what credentials their managers have. All that you have is a statement of investment principles that looks like it has been cut and pasted from any one of a thousand templates on the web,
But what can be done? I will be sending the results of my due diligence to the Pension Regulator, but I cannot see either Audax or Gallium have broken any rules. I could report these organisations as a danger to the public but I might be sued for defamation.
Operating in the same space with Save my Pension are a host of similar organisations, marketing services that exist in the demi-monde of financial services – Smart Wealth, Mayday Pensions, FirstChoice Pensions, Castle Pension Solutions, Total Pension Review, Easy Review, Pro Money Ltd (Wise Review), Pension Protect Ltd to name but a few.
All offer free reviews, all offer alternative investment strategies and all seem to be fronted by people with a background in lead generation or debt management.
We know where the problem is, we are assailed by offers to work with these people, a strong and determined Regulator must get to grips with these firms and weed out the bad apples.
But we can do little more than hope that such action will be taken. Till then we will have these annoying flies buzzing around our heads. But I fear some of these flies carry viruses which will eat into the savings of those we want to help and in so doing , destroy confidence in the pension system we are trying to rebuild.
I am meeting with one of the Executive Directors of the Pension Regulator at the end of the week and hope that I can discuss this with him.
I smell a rat, and that’s the best that I can do.