CompaniesMay 30 2013

Pru apologises after adviser complains over client contact

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ByMichael Trudeau

Prudential has apologised for dragging its heels stepping back from a client after upholding a formal complaint by the adviser.

According to Ray Galt, director and IFA at Glasgow-based advice firm Macarthur Denton, a clients’ husband was contacted by the Pru because he had funds in two Pru pensions and was approaching retirement age.

The client suggested that her husband take advice from Mr Galt instead and he subsequently sent a letter of authority to the provider on 4 April. This was received by Prudential on 9 April.

However, the Prudential adviser continued to contact the client.

Mr Galt said: “I called [Prudential Financial Planning] on 24 April to find out what their stance was now that an IFA was involved. I was curious to find out if they took the same line as Standard Life and Aviva, who always step back from the transaction and allow the IFA to provide advice.

“I simply wanted to know so that I could inform my client. I was told that they would step back, and that the adviser would be informed.

“Unfortunately this did not happen, and the Pru adviser kept in contact with my client, never once explaining that the Pru would need to step back.”

According to Prudential, the failure to back off was the result of several errors and misunderstandings, beginning with the PFP adviser not completing the required internal letter of authority, which led to miscommunications when the client was handed over.

When Mr Galt later contacted Pru to pursue his concerns, the person who took the call did not pass on the details of the call to the PFP adviser.

Prudential said to Mr Galt in a letter responding to his complaint that the internal letter of authority was not received by the Pru adviser until 2 May. The firm later called the client on 15 May to confirm he was happy to continue with Mr Galt as his adviser.

The company upheld Mr Galt’s complaint, with a customer relations employee saying to Mr Galt: “I hope the above shows that there were a series of unfortunate happenings that transpired to make matters worse.

“There are, however, areas that we do need to improve on and I have made the PFP managers aware of these.”

Prudential said in a statement: “Our policy is never to target policyholders who have an existing adviser relationship.

“It’s important, however, to recognise that in this particular case the client was actively dealing with a Prudential adviser under a Prudential LOA, and we needed to satisfy ourselves that it was the client’s wish not to continue dealing with the Prudential adviser.

“We accept that we could have reached this point sooner.”