DIY Pension planning could all end in tears

Just because you can to something yourself, does not mean that you should. We’ve all heard that before, but does it apply to pensions?

Self-invested personal pensions ( or SIPP’s), have been existed for a very long time, allowing investors to select their own investments in which to build a retirement fund, with the ultimate intention of providing an income once stop working or they start to work less.

When SIPP’s first appeared around twenty years ago they were presented as complicated, requiring the help of a financial adviser to set up and administer. They were primarily intended for self-employed professionals who did not have access to a company pensioned the valuable benefit of employer contributions.

In recent years providers have promoted SIPP’s to the wider market as a “do-it-yourself” pension. The plan is to take control of your investments and your financial future yourself.

Is this a good idea for investors?

Is this really going to work out well for investors or does it have the potential to turn out badly? In many cases I think not, and there are going to be many disappointed people, looking for someone to blame when it all goes wrong.

It’s a bit like this….

Most people have an idea of what is needed to build a house. They know that they need foundations, windows, along with brick walls with a roof on top. But just because you know the basics of how to build a house, does not mean you should build your own!

I think many of us agree, we know the basics of what to do when it comes to the building of a house, but we wouldn’t dream of doing it. We’d leave that to the experts. Sure, we could possibly save some money building our own home, but for most of us, the risks of getting it wrong far outweigh and potential saving we may make.

Yes, most of us would decide to buy a home or instruct a construction company to build one for us. It’s just a far safer and reliable option. All sort of protection is in place to protect us not only from the unscrupulous, but also to stop us making mistakes ourselves, that could be very costly.

DIY or use and expert?

So, the question is this. Do most people have the expertise required to build a retirement fund to provide them with a sustainable income once work comes too and end?

For most of us the purchase of a house and building up a good sized retirement fund are probably the 2 biggest financial designs and commitments in our lives.

There is now a growing trend for people to build their retirement fund themselves. The investor tends to make all of the investment choices themselves, all without seeking any professional financial advice.

The big question

The big question is this. If you make your own investment choices without seeking any advice and it all goes wrong, who should take the blame? The investor or the SIPP provider?

With the rise of DIY planning and the encouragement by some that we can do all this financial planning ourselves, we are now seeing providers of these types of pensions being blamed for not looking after the best interests of the investors.

In a recent case, a DIY investor told the SIPP provider to invest in Sustainable Agro-Energy, which they carried out. However, as it turned out, the company acted fraudulently, and the investor saw a loss in part of his pension fund.

The question that is quite rightly being asked is this. If an investor is choosing their own investments entirely, many of which are unregulated, who should take responsibility if it all goes wrong?

The risks can be very high

The concept of using a SIPP is to be able to access any of the many thousands of investment options many of which will be regulated, but many of which will not be. For example, direct equities are not regulated like an investment fund. So, the risks can be very high indeed.

As SIPP’s become more and more popular, more and more investors are finding that they are losing money due to poor investment decisions, whether that be due to fraud or otherwise

Just because you can buy bricks and sand from your local builder’s merchant, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to build your own house.

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