In August 2009 a client referred to as Mr G met with an adviser at TBG Financial Services Ltd, a representative of Intrinsic Mortgage Planning Ltd at that time, to raise the capital needed to fund an investment in Harlequin.
After receiving mortgage advice, Mr G – who was aged 61 at the time with an income of £23,500 plus general annual overtime of a further £4,800 - applied for an interest-only mortgage for £71,000 over a five-year term.
It was intended that around £30,000 would be used to pay a deposit for the Harlequin investment, and the remainder used to clear Mr G’s existing repayment mortgage.
The mortgage completed in October 2009 and Mr G expected that his mortgage payments would be met by Harlequin, under the terms of his investment arrangement.
As the Harlequin property was never built it is highly likely that Mr G has lost all of the money he paid as a deposit.
In September 2015 Mr G complained to Intrinsic, using a law firm to act on his behalf.
He said he believed the advice he received was unsuitable because the adviser proposed an interest-only mortgage when the repayment vehicle for that lending was the expected success of a high-risk, unregulated investment.
Intrinsic rejected the complaint stating Mr G’s recorded repayment means was an Isa, and its adviser wasn’t required to seek any evidence of that means.
It also said the key facts documentation made clear Mr G would still have £41,000 left to repay at the end of his mortgage term and he would need to account for that.
Intrinsic concluded its adviser gave reasonable advice having accounted for Mr G’s circumstances.
Intrinsic also argued the adviser wasn’t qualified to advise whether the property was a realistic repayment vehicle or to assess the risks attached to borrowing to invest on that basis and it wasn’t their fault if the underlying investment failed.
But the law firm acting for Mr G argued the adviser’s documents showed he had taken out a part repayment, part interest-only mortgage and that wasn’t correct.
The lending was entirely interest-only.
In a final decision, ombudsman Jo Storey said: “I uphold this complaint. This isn’t because the investment failed or to compensate for Mr G’s investment loss, but because I don’t believe Mr G was fully advised of the risks in repaying the mortgage, and the mortgage advice was unsuitable for his circumstances.