Curtis Banks boss says Fos is fair on firms

Curtis Banks boss says Fos is fair on firms
Will Self, CEO, Curtis Banks

The chief executive of Curtis Banks believes the Financial Ombudsman Service is “supportive” of the self-invested personal pension market, despite recent criticisms its complaints process was “flawed”.

Will Self told FTAdviser he believes the ombudsman has always been “relatively fair” to Sipp providers.

This was after Christine Hallett, managing director of Options (formerly known as Carey Pensions), criticised the Fos claiming it was not considering the law fully in its decisions and that its process for deciding Sipp complaints was “flawed”. 

Carey had won a high profile court case against a client last summer which ruled it was not the Sipp provider's responsibility to prevent a client from investing in a potentially high risk investment.

Yet last month (June 3) the Fos ordered Carey to compensate a client after it found it had not carried out adequate due diligence before accepting a Sipp application from an unregulated introducer.

In recent years, the Fos found against Sipp providers in numerous decisions regarding the level of due diligence being carried out before accepting certain investments.

But Mr Self argued despite criticisms from the likes of Carey the ombudsman had always been “relatively fair”.

Mr Self said: “The Fos has supported us where we have done the right thing and perhaps highlighted to us where we could be considering things slightly differently.

“We have always found Fos to be supportive of the right outcomes.”

Mr Self said providers need to look at the wider industry picture instead of using court cases to attempt to diminish their responsibilities when accepting certain investments.

He said: “These firms need to step back and look at what the Financial Conduct Authority and the Fos are trying to achieve.

“This is that product providers have a responsibility and that this responsibility has always existed and needs to be adhered to.”

Mr Self said Curtis Banks had steered clear of unregulated investments and such promotions.

He said: “Some of the cases we have seen recently are where firms were allowing direct to consumer clients or unregulated financial advisers but we have differentiated ourselves by only accepting business from UK regulated financial advisers.

“Some of these cases have focused on product providers who have become involved with either the distribution, marketing or promotion of underlying investments but we have never strayed into this territory.

He added: “We are not immune to these kind of issues but we have kept our powder dry and differentiated ourselves by being very diligent.

“These cases have highlighted what the expectations should be of product providers. While this has been uncomfortable for some providers, for ourselves it has been a real affirmation of the way in which we have always done things."

Sipp consolidation

Last week (July 23), Curtis Banks announced it was acquiring both rival Sipp provider Talbot and Muir and fintech firm Dunstan Thomas in a deal worth close to £53m.

Sipp consolidation has been rife recently with Hartley Pensions having snapped up a number of defunct Sipp providers.