Pensioners who have flocked to sunnier climates to enjoy their golden years are nervous they have been mis-sold badly performing Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs). It is believed a staggering £10 billion worth of SIPPs have been incorrectly dealt to hundreds of thousands of Britons by unscrupulous financial advisors. At least 70,000 British pensioners are retired in Spain and the uncertainty surrounding their pensions once Britain exits the European Union has resulted in a flood of claims. Successful claimants could pocket a £50,000 windfall with SIPP claims set to overtake PPI claim figures.
Leading pensions expert Sarah Stokes of Pension Claim Consulting Ltd, which is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority, are handling the £4.2million of claims.
She said: “In the last year we have taken on 141 claims from expats with average compensation windfalls of around £30,000.
“We are handling more claims from worried expats than ever before.
“Even though we may not leave the EU until the end of October many of our clients are putting in claims now because they are terrified their pensions will plummet after our exit.
“Most are from traditional working class professions – plumbers, builders, shop workers, nurses, catering, whose pots are already suffering during the Brexit uncertainty.
“Nearly half of these have come in the last month with many fearing a possible no-deal Brexit would destroy what little value they had.
“Brits living overseas are worried Brexit is going to affect their chances of claiming back money they are entitled to after being mis-sold a pension.
“There is so much fear around Brexit it’s easy to see why people are anxious. Add to that the falling value of the Euro against the Pound people want to be safe rather than sorry about their futures.”
“Typically, we deal with people who have realised they have been misled when cashing in their final salary pensions.
“They may have been guided into transferring by a financial adviser with the lure of a high value lump sum which can help consolidate finances in their country of residence, buy property and start up a business.
“But the ongoing Brexit negotiations have confused everything, many expats are taking a safety-first attitude and are deciding if they are to make a claim against a financial adviser, it needs to be done now.
“Thankfully, all expats entitled to compensation will be unaffected by the outcome of Brexit, the same rules will apply to everyone.
“In the majority of cases, expats like those resident here, would have been better off keeping their final salary pension where they would have received guaranteed payments for life, rather than run the risks of transferring out of the final salary scheme.
“Whatever way you look at the situation it is a mine field for many pensioners especially those living abroad.
“The fact that we are taking on record numbers of claiments shows the fear that’s out there and people realise they need to wise up quick to secure their futures.”
Frank Field, MP and chairman of the work and pensions committee has led the fight against rogue financial advisors who “circle like vultures” around pension savers.
His committee said “dubious” advisors and “parasitical” introducers had “shamelessly bamboozled” thousands of pension scheme members.
Ms Stokes added: “I would urge anyone living in Spain who has a SIPP that they were advised to set up to get them checked straight away.”