The principal UK regulator that may apply to investments is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Many alternative investments however are unregulated, although the promotion and selling of them may be a regulated activity. Within the investment directory, the listing confirms the regulatory status of the investment itself.
The effect of being unregulated is that if anything goes wrong, neither the scheme member nor the pension trustees/operator are likely to be able to take any complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service or have any recourse to compensation through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This is because most, if not all, of the entities dealt with in connection with the investment may be outside of UK regulation and not covered by these institutions. Even if certain entities are authorised and regulated by the FCA, such as an adviser or Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) operator, whether the investor has any regulatory recourse will depend on what has gone wrong - the regulated entities can only be held accountable if something is their fault. For example, if as part of a CIS, an unregulated resort developer goes bust meaning the resort is unfinished and the investment suffers a drop in value, the CIS operator would not usually be at fault. If on the other hand a loss was suffered due to maladministration of the FCA regulated CIS operator, for example not processing payments on time, then regulatory recourse may be available. Alternatively if a regulated adviser has recommended an unregulated investment then the investor may be able to complain or make a claim around the promotion and advice.
The Packaged Retail Investment Products (PRIPs) directive, currently being shaped by the European Union may increase regulation to a wider range of products than currently, however this legislation is still in development. A consultation paper was issued in 2010 with draft regulations on key information to be disclosed issued in July 2012 and for these to come into force in 2014/15.
The pensions based regulatory bodies such as The Pensions Regulator (TPR), The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and Pensions Ombudsman are concerned with issues or complaints regarding the running and administration of pension schemes rather than investments within SIPPs and SSASs.