Fos apologises to adviser over process error

Fos apologises to adviser over process error

The Financial Ombudsman Service has apologised to an adviser for incorrectly pursuing his company in an alleged case of unsuitable pension advice. 

IFS Financial Management Ltd was established in 2003, but in February it received notice from the ombudsman that a complaint had been made against the company for pension advice allegedly received in 1999. 

The complainant alleged he had been advised to set up a personal pension with a provider rather than enrol in his employer's defined benefit pension, and believed he would have been better off in the latter. 

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The complainant was part of a client bank which joined IFS Financial Management in 2005, following the retirement of a broker at another company which was later wound down. 

In his submission to the ombudsman the complainant did acknowledge the original adviser who first allegedly offered the advice was no longer in business, and he was therefore complaining about IFS Financial Management. 

Jeremy Miles, managing director at IFS Financial Management, claims the only contact he had with the client prior to the complaint lodged earlier this year was an offer of review his company sent out to all clients amid the financial crash in 2008, but he said this letter went unanswered.   

In correspondence seen by FTAdviser Mr Miles informed the ombudsman that the advice in question was alleged to have taken place before his company existed and confirmed he had never met or advised the client. 

But in response to this a customer help assistant at the ombudsman asked Mr Miles to justify the offer of review his company had sent to the client in 2008, to which Mr Miles responded by reiterating his position and submitting a formal complaint against the Fos claiming they had not taken steps to verify the accuracy of the claim. 

In a response received three weeks later, a team manager at the ombudsman apologised to Mr Miles and confirmed the correct procedure had not been followed in verifying the claim against his company. 

The email read: "When we set up complaints we do it on the information provided by the consumer at that time. Sometimes it’s not always clear which business the complaint is about.

"We try, where possible to set complaints up against the right business when we receive information from the consumer. But we don’t always get this right. And often we’ll need to ask questions of both parties to make sure we have set the complaint up against the right business."

The email continued: "...the correct course of action would have been to contact the client for further information to ascertain who the complaint should have been set up against. And to get some further information on what the client's complaint concerned.  I’m sorry that this did not happen."

The email confirmed feedback would be given to the team to ensure a repeat scenario did not happen again in the future.