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Adviser threatens to ditch Aviva platform over cheque dispute

Adviser threatens to ditch Aviva platform over cheque dispute

An adviser has threatened to ditch the Aviva platform over a spat involving a rejected cheque.

Clive Farrell, chartered financial planner at Galleon Wealth Management, told FTAdviser he had “given a lot of business” to the Aviva platform in the past but was now “seriously looking at an alternative”.

The saga began when one of his clients wished to top up two existing investment portfolios in mid-May. 

Mr Farrell sent the top up cheques to Aviva in mid-May but nearly a month later, he received an email from Aviva saying the cheques would be returned to the client as there was “no one available to bank the cheques”.

Aviva had informed Mr Farrell it was no longer accepting cheques in an email to advisers in mid-March, but he said he had missed it as it “looked like just another sales email” and the ‘no cheques’ message was hidden in the “middle of the email”.

Mr Farrell said: “I suggested to my contact at Aviva that returning the cheques after nearly a month was an unreasonably long time and perhaps Aviva would adjust the price of the units, as the markets were moving up. 

“The adjustment would be relatively small. No luck at all — Aviva have washed their hands of it and have basically put the blame on me.”

On top of this, when the cheques were returned to the client, the name on the envelope was incorrect.

“I know we are in a pandemic, but what has happened to good customer service and keeping the adviser on side?”, Mr Farrell said.

An Aviva spokesperson said the firm had told advisers in March, in an email entitled ‘Covid-19 - service update for the Aviva platform’, that it was no longer accepting cheques in a bid to ensure the safety of its staff.

The spokesperson added: “We regret there has apparently been a mix up in the name of the customer on an envelope. 

“We would be happy to look into this further...we always aim to provide good customer service and apologise for any distress or inconvenience caused when this falls short of levels we would hope for.

“We have been committed to keeping advisers up-to-date as service levels change, in very difficult circumstances for all involved, and will continue to do so. “

Mr Farrell's case was the latest in a string of gripes over poor provider service.

In May, advisers said they were battling a declining level of service which often left them scrambling for answers from “faceless” companies, often resulting in frustrated clients and lengthy delays.

Back in 2018 advisers were complaining of long waiting times and incomplete client documents, arguing they were losing money as a result of ever worsening customer service standards.

Blunders from Aviva included leaving an IFA out of pocket and then taking weeks to respond to his queries as well as taking too long to resolve a pension error which meant a client’s pension payments were not processed correctly.