Sesame tops Fos list of shame for advisory firms

Sesame tops Fos list of shame for advisory firms

Sesame Bankhall Group has topped the Financial Ombudsman Service’s list of most complained about advisory firms over the past six months, it has been revealed.

According to Fos data, the Friends Life owned network had 142 complaints between July and December referred to the service.

Most of these, 45, related to pensions and decumulation while another 29 related to PPI.

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Between January and June the network had 197 complaints against it - with 69 relating to pensions and decumulation - bringing the total to 339 for 2014.

Meanwhile, Openwork had 82 complaints filed against it - most relating to mortgages and home finance. The Swindon-based firm had 73 complaints during the previous six months.

Bristol-based brokerage Hargreaves Lansdown had 106 complaints in the last year while St James’s Place had 124 - in both cases the largest number were about investments.

The ombudsman took a total of 161,649 new cases in the second half of 2014, with PPI making up two-thirds of these complaints.

The average uphold rate was 52 per cent.

Once again, Tenet and Intrinsic were absent from the list of complaints throughout 2014, although Fos figures only cover businesses which receive 30 complaints or more. In 2013, Tenet Connect had 38 cases referred, while Intrinsic had no complaints recorded in 2013.

In the financial year 2013/14 complaints about IFAs amounted to 512,167, which represented about 1 per cent of the total number of cases Fos handled.

The company which received the most complaints between July and December was Lloyds, which had 24,245, mostly relating to PPI.

Prudential had the most complaints about pensions, with 280 grievances lodged.

A spokesman for Fos said: “The ombudsman has always highlighted the benefits of independent financial advice, tailored to an individual’s specific needs when people are considering purchasing products like an investment or pension.

“Our latest complaints data highlights that very few IFAs feature in any of our most complained about businesses.

Right of reply

Danny Cox, head of communications at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the 58 complaints the firm received in the last six months of 2014 represent less than 0.009 per cent of its clients.

He said: “We pride ourselves on having an excellent reputation for delivering a first class service and high client satisfaction scores and are always disappointed when, in a small minority of cases, some clients feel we have not attained our high standards.

“However we are not complacent and continue to work hard to improve our services and always welcome comments and feedback from clients.”

At the time of going to press Sesame, Openwork and St James’s Place had not responded to a request to comment for this story.