Simoney Kyriakou  

FCA must crack down on CMCs to end the horror show

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Suppose you sold a single-life policy some years ago to a client. 

Client reviews come and go, and the client always seems happy and satisfied. 

Then one day, over a decade on, you get a letter from a claims management company demanding you investigate the sale of a payment protection insurance policy relating to that client. 

You're confused and surprised as you never sold PPI to anyone. On investigating - doing everything the CMC asked you to do, because you want to be thorough - you not only realise that indeed, this was not PPI, but also the claimant is taking a big punt. 

Suppose that claimant is not in fact your original client but the client's spouse, who has informed you, via the CMC, that "because I never claimed on the policy, I want my money back". 

By all counts, this would make your head spin: the spouse is not covered on the policy, the policy is not PPI and nobody can claim back money spent on insurance premiums - that's not how cover works. 

You would be right for telling the CMC they've wasted your time and theirs. 

Except they then escalate it to Financial Ombudsman Service, perhaps in the hope of scaring you into making some form of ex-gratia payment just to make the complaint go away.

This sounds like a perfect nightmare scenario - perhaps something Financial Adviser might run in a Halloween Special - and most right-minded financial services professionals just would not believe something that ludicrous would ever happen.

And yet it did to one financial adviser and, judging from the comments on the story, which Financial Adviser covered on October 18th, this sort of thing has happened to many other advisers. 

Time after time, spurious CMC claims against advisers crop up and cause the IFA to drop everything, investigate the case, and respond in the same way: 'We never sold PPI'. And yet the CMCs persist in pursuing this horror show with Fos - putting immense pressure on the adviser and giving false hope to the consumer. 

The Claims Regulator has said it takes such complaints seriously - but evidently not seriously enough for there to be an end to this fright fest.

One can only hope when the Financial Conduct Authority takes over regulation of CMCs next year there will be stricter enforcement action against such chancers, for the sake of adviser and client.

Simoney Kyriakou is deputy editor of Financial Adviser