IFAFeb 16 2023

Firm fails after former IFA wins £140k unfair dismissal case

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Firm fails after former IFA wins £140k unfair dismissal case
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BySally Hickey

A financial planning firm has failed a year after being ordered to pay an employed adviser £140,000 for unfair dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages.

Alexander Sloan Financial Planning failed yesterday with one valid claim against it (February 15), according to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The claim is for pension transfer advice, but is not related to the British Steel pension scheme.

The company, based in Glasgow with an office in Edinburgh, was the Scottish representative firm of the DFK Group.

In January 2022, a judge ruled in favour of a former employee, Colin Rodger, who accused the firm of unfair dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages and took them to an employment tribunal.

Nobody representing the company appeared in court.

Tribunal case

The judge found that Alexander Sloan FP failed to pay Rodger between September 2018 until his resignation in June 2021, and this amounted to a breach of his contract.

The tribunal ruled that Rodger was entitled to £16,570 in compensation for the contract breach, as well as his full salary in the period which totalled £123,348.80.

The issue stemmed from a period in which Alexander Sloan Financial Planning temporarily relinquished its FCA permissions pending an investigation by the regulator.

After the FCA visited the company in July 2018 and the investigation began, clients were directed to an alternative financial adviser to ensure they continued to receive advice, and the company stopped paying Rodger.

In the evidence provided to the tribunal, Rodger said although he was unhappy at not being paid during this period, he believed his first priority was to deal with the FCA investigation, and also believed his co-directors (Kevin Booth and Mark Mulholland) expected this of him.

He expected he would be paid eventually.

The situation was “incredibly serious” for the company and for Rodger personally, the tribunal heard, as a number of the regulator’s allegations were directed at him.

The FCA concluded in July 2020 that there had been no wrongdoing and it would be taking no further action. Rodger was not disciplined by Alexander Sloan FP, nor was he subject to any internal investigation.

The company did not re-apply for its FCA authorisation and its permissions were removed in February 2021, which Rodger said he only discovered by checking the FCA’s website.

At that point, Rodger requested his unpaid salary from the firm, as well as confirmation that he would receive statutory redundancy pay.

He received no reply to multiple emails, and believed he could not have done anything about his unpaid wages until March 2021 when the business dropped its FCA permissions.