Wealth manager Tilney has compensated an unhappy client who was left without an adviser for over a year after her original adviser left the firm.
The client, who the Financial Ombudsman Service called Ms L, said Tilney had failed to provide the service she was entitled to after her dedicated adviser left in July 2017 and was not replaced.
According to the Fos decision, published in November, Ms L had experienced a bereavement just before her adviser had left Tilney and was “significantly affected” by it, to the point her original adviser had considered her a vulnerable client.
Despite this her adviser was not replaced — even though Tilney had promised to do so — and Ms L was left without any meaningful service, according to the Fos. Ms L therefore personally undertook administrative tasks for her investments despite those tasks being within Tilney’s service, the ombudsman heard.
Ms L was without an adviser from July 2017 until she withdrew all her funds from Tilney in October 2018.
When she complained Ms L asked Tilney to refund its fees from between those dates alongside additional compensation to the tune of the fee total, on the basis she had performed the work assigned to Tilney during that period.
Tilney upheld the complaint and agreed to refund the fees taken between July 2017 and October 2018, as well as £250 for the trouble caused to Ms L.
But Ms L argued the compensation was an insufficient amount for the upset caused to her by Tilney from the moment her adviser had left the firm, noting her vulnerable circumstances and the fact it had taken up until March 2019 to resolve her financial affairs with the wealth manager.
Ombudsman Roy Kuku said he understood the “strength of feeling” and the “level of distress” the situation had caused Ms L but ruled that Tilney had no obligation to duplicate the total refund of fees as additional compensation, arguing it “would not be fair”.
Mr Kuku said: “I consider that £250 is broadly consistent with the amount of compensation for trouble and upset that this service has awarded complainants in similar circumstances.
“I appreciate the insensitivity that Ms L could have perceived in terms of her experience with Tilney during exceptional circumstances in her personal life at the time.
“However, I am not persuaded that I have seen enough – in the context of comparable complaints in which trouble and upset awards have been made – to warrant an increase to the £250 amount.”
Tilney therefore must pay Ms L a refund of the fees she incurred between July 2017 and October 2018 alongside the agreed £250.
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