Evil’s SIPP, the FCA and Billing Services

3 mins. to read
Evil’s SIPP, the FCA and Billing Services

Long term savers get tax deduction when setting aside sums in a pension fund. HMG is determined that the saver cannot have his money without paying tax on withdrawals. So far so good. But the funds have to be handled by a pensioner trustee. In my case it is Curtis Banks Limited and the funds are at Charles Stanley. The annual fee charged by Curtis Banks is c. £450. Curtis Banks do nothing whatsoever for their money and are merely successors for God alone knows how many preceding “trustees” or leeches (Wolanski and then Alliance spring to mind) as I regard them.

I am now 70 and might be best advised to pack it in and draw a pension. But I do not see why I should. I would like to continue benefiting from the tax-free status of the funds within the SIPP. So I seek to economise on the costs of merely having the assets in the wrapper.

Curtis Banks are operating a dying industry since HMG are clearly dead set on winding back the attractions of having a SIPP. HMG are doing this by cutting back on tax benefits and, also, the amount held within the SIPP. So Curtis Banks know the writing is on the wall. (Incidentally, Curtis Banks’s profit is largely derived from this activity and I question the assertion in today’s Investors Chronicle that Curtis Banks is a buy: Curtis Banks now face a rising revolt.)

I for my part have opened a successor SIPP trustee account at Charles Stanley which is cheaper to operate than the “service” offered by Curtis Banks. So I seek a move.

It is here that I get the full fury of Curtis Banks. They want a fee for in effect transferring my assets to me. However, their claim to a fee is remarkably doubtful. And I am challenging it. I am only asking them to take one minute to sign a document. For this Curtis Banks are proposing a fee of £500.

I suppose that there are lots of suckers who pay this without protesting. But I will not.

Curtis Banks are taking the matter through their complaints procedure. This decision should take one minute. But Curtis Banks want four weeks stressing that they would be within their rights to take eight weeks. Curtis Banks expect me to pay for this.


Elsewhere on the “regulatory front” readers may recall the staggering mess when a well known broker invoked a clause, imposed by the FCA, which revolved around the definition of “complex instrument”. The broker did not know the definition and, eventually, after one year, paid up compensation for the consequences of their ignorance. However, being a public-spirited soul, I dropped a note to the boss of the FCA, Andrew Bailey, and pointed out to him that I hold a letter from the FCA in which it is disclosed that the FCA does not offer a definition of a “complex instrument”. So, all the trouble to which I have earlier alluded is a direct consequence of the FCA’s stupidity.

Astoundingly, Mr Bailey does not correct his organisation’s stupidity. He has initiated a “complaints” enquiry into the absurdity of deploying “complex instrument” as a pivotal contractual feature. I thought no more about it: idiots can get on with wasting their time for as long as they like – provided, of course, I am not charged with the cost. (Actually, we all are since the FCA costs £500m p.a. and we, the investors, all have to pay for the FCA.) And then, blow me down, the FCA approach me for a full recital of how I came to reckon that “complex instrument” had been misused. At that I lost my temper. The FCA think that I have got the time to go over their stupidity. Well, I haven’t.


Earlier this week I explained why Billing Services (LON:BILL) seems cheap to me. However, I have subsequently spoken at length to people who are closely connected with the company and been cautioned as to the inevitability of the 2017 results being as good as those for 2016. However, I still think 6p is cheap even though there is risk. I paid 5.7p yesterday.


Finally, Zuma symbolises the collapse of South Africa. The ANC seems unable to chuck out this corrupting thief. My guess is that South Africa will go like Zimbabwe in about ten years. It could be sooner. This will of course be the triumph of one man one vote.

Comments (1)

  • W Butler says:

    The trustee ensures that the SIPP complies with the relevant tax laws and often administers the fund. This means that they do all the paperwork for the tax relief on dividends and such like. Did you know that SIPPs are entitled to the full gross dividend on US shares (no income tax, no witholding tax!), unlike in the UK? All those who have complained about Gordon Brown’s dividend tax on shares have been in the wrong market for the past 20 years. You should be able to find a cheaper trustee if you look, although the exit fee looks a little harsh.

    Regarding BILL LN, all of the profit essentially came from an accounting reversal of the money set aside for the LEC claims. Very useful, but unrepeatable. Still, there are worse balance sheets out there. I’m surprised you omitted to mention who their largest shareholder is. Surely a very relevant fact?

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