Allan Gare dreamt of a retirement spent in the sun. He was on track too. During his time in the military, he was lucky enough to have been given a final salary pension. With this pension Allan would be assured of a fixed income every year. Along with a small personal pension, Allan’s dream would have been possible.
Five years ago however, Allan received a cold call from a company who offered him a free pension review.
“They called me up and said they knew I had a military pension. Basically they told me that my pensions were not doing so good being held within the government. Saying they were making 3-4% at the time and I said, “Well, that’s not too bad”. But they said they could get me a minimum of 15 to 30%.”
With the promise of a guaranteed return on his investment, Allan transferred his final salary pension to invest in the Detroit housing market and ethical forests in Costa Rica.
Cold calls can at best, be very annoying. At worse, they can be very expensive. The Money Advice Service says there are 250 million pension cold calls a year. Some of these cold calls have even been linked to pension fraud.
Darren Cooke has been a financial adviser for 25 years and has seen a rise in pension cold calls. He felt passionate that the government should tackle the problem of unsolicited calls.
“This is what someone is expecting to live on for the rest of their life. You condemn them in many cases to a life not much more than poverty. You’re stealing their future.”
After a successful campaign, the government took notice. Last year they announced plans to ban pension cold calling. There’s a catch though, only calls made within the UK would be subject to the proposed ban leaving companies free to set up call centres overseas.
Tom McPhail, a leading pension expert says: “Part of the problem is that the Financial Conduct Authority can control regulated business in this country, the government can make it illegal to cold call in this country, but it can never stop telephone calls, emails, tweets, messages from around the world. It cannot control every jurisdiction in the world.”
Five years after the call and Allan Gare has little to show for his investments. The forestry scheme has gone into liquidation and the Detroit housing project hasn’t provided any returns for the past two years.
It may not seem like it, but Allan might be one of the lucky few. Because he dealt with a regulated company, he may be entitled to compensation.
Luke Sharman from Get Claims Advice helps those who think they have been mis-sold a pension investment. Some people will get their money back but others are beyond help
“We might speak to hundreds of people every day and more often than not, we can’t help them because they’re in a position where they’ve not dealt with a regulated company. It’s just shocking because these people are now going to have to work the rest of their lives without a pension.”
With the announcement of the upcoming general election, Darren Cooke’s hopes for a pension cold call ban has put on hold for now. We’ll have to wait until the government is in place to decide how it wishes to proceed however if implemented, it will send out an important message both to customers and rogue firms.
If you think you have been mis-sold a pension please visit www.pension-scams.com for guidance.
Watch more from Tonight: How Safe Is Your Pension? on the ITV Hub.