17 Jan, 2008
Published: 07:00 Thursday 17 January
2008 By: Anonymous, Mystery Advisor
Complex Sipp/SSAS work sorts out the men
from the boys when it comes to providers. Our anonymous adviser
finds two that make the grade.
We have recommended Sipps since the late 1980s where the
predecessor of Winterthur Life was Provident Life. We had a great
relationship with the consultant, but we have gradually moved most
of our Winterthur Life schemes to other providers because we just
could not cope with its poor administration. Whether they have
improved now, is something we cannot comment on, due to the fact we
have very little contact with the company.
One characteristic of excellent customer service is the ability to
consistently exceed the customer's expectations. But how often does
that happen in our daily lives? Well, I am pleased to report here
on two Sipp/SSAS providers who have really raised the bar.
A lot of our Sipps which were transferred from Winterthur Life went
to Wolanski & Co, now Alliance Trust Pensions, although for a
time we became a little fed up with seeing the name of Alliance
Trust, having been one of those unfortunate recipients of Hyman
Wolanski's now infamous 'multiplying' email just before Christmas
At the time, several of our clients expressed their concern that
the business being sold to Alliance Trust would reduce the level of
personal service. Although like many insurance companies and
pension providers it has struggled with general Sipp administration
since the increased workload after 'A' Day, I am delighted to
report that the Alliance Trust Property team has excelled
themselves. A recent example of its good work was for a group of
our clients who were purchasing a commercial property. We had eight
Sipps investing together with borrowings and the solicitor needing
to exchange quickly. A property with borrowing through a pension
scheme can take time and be complicated and it required a flexible
and efficient approach. Alliance Trust was superb and thoroughly
deserve our praise for their competent service.
Another accolade should go to IPS Pensions on the work done for a
SSAS, also with a property purchase, but in this instance, a SSAS
with a limited liability partnership. It again demanded quick
action, a joint ownership agreement with VAT registration issues
and also commercial borrowing. IPS handled everything smoothly,
leaving us very confident in their ability to continue to deal with
issues of a similar nature in the future.
This leads to comparison with the service received from Hazell
Carr. This firm has so far taken six months to wind up a SSAS and
transfer its assets to two Sipps, often taking a week to reply to
emails and other correspondence which has compounded the
frustration of the clients concerned. The particular scheme in
question began as one from Scottish Equitable. Apart from AXA,
which we have always trusted on SSAS issues, I would now rarely
consider an insurance company for this type of scheme.
If commercial property purchase occurs it is important to choose
the provider very carefully as the process of buying a commercial
property in a pension scheme is more about service standards and
being able to deliver on time, rather than just the pure cost of
the services provided.