Fos backs adviser after client signs letter without reading

Fos backs adviser after client signs letter without reading

An appointed representative of Sesame has had a complaint against it dismissed by the Financial Ombudsman Service, after a client who ignored the adviser’s advice tried to claim for losses.

The client - known as Mr H - had been advised to transfer his existing pensions into a Sipp and advised to invest part of his pension fund in Arch cru and Eurocape.

He later wanted to access his pension to get £60,000 to extend a property for his retirement but his adviser warned against this.

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Mr H then said he didn’t agree that it was his idea to withdraw funds from the pension and that been suggested by the adviser - despite him having signed a letter in which the adviser warned against withdrawing money from his Sipp, which he admitted to not having read.

Ombudsman Lesley Stead said: “It’s always difficult in this sort of situation to decide what really happened. But there is a letter dated 25 September 2009 from Mr H and signed by him.

“It says he understands the adviser was advising him not to draw the money from the pension fund as that will reduce the death benefits and potentially Mr H’s retirement income.

“I know Mr H says he simply signed the letter without reading it. But I hope he’d agree that it’s difficult to see why someone with his professional background would do that.

“I think he’d have understood that, if a dispute later arose, it would be difficult for him to challenge successfully what he’d apparently confirmed in writing.”

The adviser who gave the original advice to invest in the Sipp left his business in 2008 and joined Munroe James, so Mr H appointed Munroe James as his new adviser.

Mr H argued that his pension should have been reviewed as soon as Sesame took over at the beginning of 2009.

If a review had been done promptly and the unsuitability of the Arch cru and Eurocape funds identified, Mr H said, his position now might be different - in particular there might have been sufficient time to sell his Arch cru holding before redemptions were suspended in March 2009.

But Ms Stead disagreed, saying that the need to review or revisit existing advice will depend on the circumstances of each case.

She said: “As to what happened later in Mr H’s case, the confidential financial review form dated 18 June 2009 shows Mr H declined Sesame’s full review service covering protection, pension and investment planning.

“The recommendations to invest in Arch cru and Eurocape were made when the adviser was with the other business. I don’t think Sesame should have reviewed advice given earlier to Mr H when it became his adviser.

“I don’t think that Sesame became liable for the advice that Mr H had been given by a different business.

“In any event Mr H has had the benefit of the tax free cash that he took. It would be difficult to say that he’s suffered any loss when he’s benefited from that money.