An adviser has accused Scottish Widows of attempting to cross-sell to one of his clients shortly after it had resolved a dispute with another of his clients.
Andrew Oliver, co-director of Kent-based Andrew Oliver & Co, has accused the provider of showing a lack of professionalism in cold-calling a client not long after he and the provider had resolved another issue over fee payments.
Mr Oliver claimed the provider had stopped paying him adviser charges for his services to a client because the individual had reached an agreed retirement age, but because the client had opted to defer retirement Mr Oliver said his services had continued.
After discussions over the terms of the client’s contract, Scottish Widows agreed to resume payments to Mr Oliver, but shortly after this he discovered that another of his clients had been cold-called about possible retirement services.
He said: “Scottish Widows at the very least has to be professional. It is unprofessional if brokers or IFAs and insurance companies are trying to stab each other in the back, rather than putting the client first.”
Last year, Financial Adviser reported a number of complaints from advisers related to Scottish Widows.
Mal Hughes, financial adviser for Powys-based GIFP Financial Advisers, said he had issues with delays relating to a client’s guaranteed annuity rate (GAR) which he said had not yet been resolved.
A spokesman for Scottish Widows said: “In reference to the GAR complaint that the adviser believes has not been resolved, we would have communicated to both customer and adviser well in advance of the time period that the GAR would be available. In these circumstances we would hope the adviser would help their client understand the value of the GAR and the period in which to accept the GAR.”
Martyn Quantick, an IFA for Nottinghamshire-based Quantick Financial Services, previously experienced service problems but said he had not used Scottish Widows recently.
Neil Liversidge, managing director of Yorkshire-based West Riding Personal Financial Solutions and Sam Caunt, director of Northamptonshire-based Future Life Financial Planning, also said his firm had not dealt with Scottish Widows recently, although they had experienced problems in the past.
When Hughes, Quantick and Liversidge originally raised their concerns in August 2014, a Scottish Widows spokesman said the provider was increasing staffing levels and putting training programmes in place in order to address service level issues.
Right to reply
Regarding Mr Oliver’s client, a Scottish Widows spokesman said: “As part of our preparations to support advisers and customers through the new retirement freedoms we have established a retirement telephony service.
“As we prepare for launch we have been piloting this approach. Part of this pilot has involved calls to customers to inform them of the upcoming changes .
“Where the customer has an existing adviser we would always encourage them to contact the adviser direct. We will also contact the adviser to ensure they understand all we are trying to do is complement the services provided by them.”