Financial Ombudsman Service  

Historic advice keeps Sesame at top of complaints list

Historic advice keeps Sesame at top of complaints list

Sesame and St James’s Place have again topped the Financial Ombudsman Service’s (Fos) list of most complained about adviser firms in the first six months of the year.

According to Fos data published today (September 11), Sesame had 80 complaints referred to the service between January and June, while St James’s Place saw 75 complaints brought against the firm.

The pair were already the most complained about advice firms in the last period with 95 and 69 claims respectively but the number of claims brought has reduced in the beginning of the year.

The brunt of Sesame's complaints were about historic advice on life and pensions and decumulation (25), while 20 were about mortgages, 15 about general insurance, and 13 about historic investment advice.

Sesame stopped offering pensions and investment advice in 2015, following an internal review into pensions advice given by its appointed representatives.

A spokesperson for Sesame said: “As one of the UK’s largest and longest established financial adviser networks, the referral of 80 cases to the Fos in the first half of 2019 represents a tiny proportion of the business our members have written over many years.

“Many of these Fos complaint cases relate to historic pension and investment business. Sesame no longer operates in this sector of the market.

“We take all complaints extremely seriously and in recent years Sesame has seen a steadily improving trend in Fos complaints. Sesame also has an uphold rate that is better than the industry average, with 86 per cent of the complaints referred to the Fos rejected.”

Meanwhile SJP's complaints included 32 about investments, 25 about life and pensions and decumulation and 10 about mortgages.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We take our client satisfaction very seriously and regret any occasion where a client has cause for complaint.  

"The number of complaints received during the first six months of 2019 continues to be low when compared to our client base of over 700,000."

The Fos lists only businesses that had 30 or more complaints brought against them in the six-month period.

Openwork, which had previously appeared high up on the adviser list, did not make the latest list, though the firm had received 50 complaints between August and December 2018.

On the provider side the most complained about pensions provider was Aviva Life & Pensions with 355 complaints during the first half of this year, followed by Phoenix Life with 242, Prudential Assurance Company with 164 and Royal London Mutual Insurance Society with 118.

With regards to investments Barclays was the most complained about company with 147 complaints, followed by Santander with 137 and Aviva Life & Pensions with 124.

The most complained about mortgage providers were Bank of Scotland with 705, followed by Santander with 412 and Barclays with 372.

PPI continued to dominate the ombudsman's workload with a total of 72,155 complaints in this area compared with 52,979 banking and credit complaints and 15,330 about general insurance.

In comparison, complaints against mortgages, investments and life and pension and decumulation were relatively low at 3,784, 1,532 and 1,765 respectively.

Overall the Fos received 147,545 new complaints, an average of over 6,000 complaints a week.