There are lots of companies’ names mentioned in the news around mis-sold Sipps. In this blog we look at Portafina and explain how they were involved in financial mis-selling.
Who is Portafina?
Portafina, previously known as Portal Financial Services LLP, is a Sipp administrator, incorporated in March 2009. Between 2009 and 2016 the company advised over 11,000 clients and was trusted with over £250 million of customers’ savings.
What involvement does Portafina have in mis-sold investments?
In the early 2000’s Portafina gave investment advice to clients, advising them to invest in unregulated schemes, including Harlequin Property, Hypa Asia Fund, Raithwaites Hypa Fund, Koroni Fund, Cool Blue, Venture Oil, EOS Solar, Eco Planet Bamboo and Store First.
Several clients have since lost money and discovered these investments into unregulated schemes are worthless.
One such client “Mr H” made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). In 2011 “Mr H” attended a financial seminar. His occupational pension was frozen and he feared he was losing value. During the seminar Mr H spoke to an individual he thought worked for Portafina. In fact this individual worked for an unregulated company.
Has anyone received compensation against Portafina?
“Mr H” was referred to Portafina and via post he was advised to set up a Sipp and make investments into purchase shares in Venture Oil Investments, purchase shares in Kudos Asia Investments and purchase a Harlequin property.
By September 2016, Mr H’s SIPP was valued at just under £50,000, some £60,000 less than he invested. Mr H was unhappy the value had dropped so much and began to suspect the investments he had made were worthless.
The case was reviewed by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) who were not persuaded Portafina had given an execution only service, and that it was more likely it had given advice.
To compensate Mr H, Portafina was told to obtain the notional transfer value of Mr H’s previous pension plan and compare it to the actual value of his Sipp. Any losses made should be paid into Mr H’s Sipp, or a personal pension of his choice.
Unfortunately Mr H is not alone is suffering losses due to advise given by Portafina/Portal Financial Services. 14 other customers have had their complaints upheld by FOS. These were regarding the company’s advice to put client’s money into Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS) to allow high-risk investments through Sipps. High-risk and unregulated schemes were often not suitable for clients to invest their pensions in.
A second compensation case
In another case upheld by FOS, Portafina LLP was found to have wrongly advised “Mr O” to transfer his rebate-only personal pension into a Sipp.
The majority of Mr O’s funds were then invested in UCIS recommended by Portafina. Mr O had advised he wanted “low to no” risk, however the investments were high risk.
Portafina was told to compensate Mr O by comparing the performance of his investment with that of the FTSE WMA Stock Market Income Total Return index. The firm paid the difference between the fair value and the actual investment value.
Does or did Portafina act as administrator for your SIPP? Could you have invested in any of the unregulated schemes detailed above and lost money? Our team of financial mis-selling experts may be able to recover compensation for any loss suffered.