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Pacific IFA Ltd dealt 15 upheld complaints for poor advice involving Harlequin Property Investments and SIPPs

Pacific IFA Ltd (previously called Pacific Life), is an Essex based financial advice firm currently showing 2 active and regulated advisers, and is now known to have been involved in the sale of Harlequin Property investments through SIPP wrappers, as part of a chain of firms that involve unregulated introducers acting as agents for Harlequin.

Currently (Jan 2017), the Financial Ombudsman Service is showing no less than 15 upheld complaints against Pacific IFA Ltd, all centering on advice regarding SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions) which at some point involved Harlequin Properties – the now infamous UCIS investment, that sought to fund a range of hotels and villas in the Caribbean, some of which has now entered into insolvency practices.

Some of these investments, which Pacific IFA Ltd repeatedly insisted in various cases that it did NOT advise on (instead, saying it only advised on the SIPP itself), were introduced to the clients through third party firms, unregulated by the FCA.

Pacific IFA Ltd Case Example 1 – DRN7720403

Mr G was (at the time) a self-employed tradesman earning around £15,000 per year. He had around £50,000 in pensions.

Mr G was introduced to Harlequin through a Third Party, and then was referred to Pacific IFA Ltd for a financial review.

The Ombudsman said, “There’s no evidence Mr G was an experienced or sophisticated investor. Pacific knew that the investment was to be made in Harlequin.”

“Pacific knew that the investment was to be made in Harlequin. This was an unregulated, high risk, highly illiquid overseas property.”

“Mr G contracted with Pacific. Because of Pacific’s regulated advice he transferred into the SIPP and invested in Harlequin”

Why is this important?

High risk, non-standard and illiquid assets are not suitable for everyone. Really, they are only supposed to be for people who are Sophisticated Investors, and people with a lot of money so they can run the risks they present.


Pacific IFA Ltd Case Example 2 – DRN3953984

Mr C also ended up in a SIPP with Harlequin Investments, and was introduced to the investment through an unregulated third party.

In his early 40’s, married and earning roughly £35k per year, his home was valued at around £170,000 subject to mortgage. He also had a personal pension worth around £67,000 before transferring into the SIPP.

Mr C is described as having “About as much knowledge as the next person” regarding investments – not a description of a Sophisticated Investor – and an Attitude to Risk as “cautious” and/or “balanced”.

Once again, according to the Ombudsman “Pacific said they would only advice on the SIPP, not Harlequin”.

“Mr C was not an experienced investor and he relied on Pacific’s advice”.

The case was upheld as an example of unsuitable advice regarding a SIPP transfer with underlying investments.



Spencer Churchill Claims Advice is a Claims Management Company specialising in the complexities of mis-sold pension and investment claims, particularly those featuring SIPP with unregulated, high-risk or non-standard investments.

Alex Waters
19 January 2017
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