Defined BenefitJan 26 2023

Pension advice firm Portal fails after facing hundreds of complaints

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Pension advice firm Portal fails after facing hundreds of complaints
[Pixabay/Helmet Jungclaus]Hundreds of complaints have been filed against Portal since April 2021 over bad advice
ByRuby Hinchliffe

Portal Financial Services LLP has entered liquidation following hundreds of complaints filed against it over poor advice.

The pension advice firm has not yet been declared in default, but FTAdviser understands this could happen sometime in the next few days.

Portal is under investigation by the FSCS, with the lifeboat scheme now accepting claims against the firm. If a valid claim is processed, the firm will be declared in default.

On the FSCS's website, it states Portal entered compulsory liquidation on January 18, 2023.

Prior to its liquidation, hundreds of complaints were filed against it at the Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos)

Since April 1, 2021 and up to the day it failed, about 215 complaints were filed.

During that period, the Fos recorded a 90 per cent uphold rate.

"The majority of the complaints are about pension products – mainly Ucis and other non-standard investments as well as DB pension transfers, with the most complained about issue being suitability of advice," a Fos spokesperson told FTAdviser.

The FSCS also said in its update today (January 26) that Portal is one of the firms associated with claims regarding the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS), which saw some steelworkers advised to transfer out of the scheme and lose thousands in benefits.

Back in July last year, the FSCS said it was “prepared to step in and pay claims” if Portal - then facing 190 claims with the Fos - were to become insolvent and not be able to meet the claims itself.

The FSCS’s resolution team had been monitoring Portal, which had at that point applied to the Financial Conduct Authority to have its permissions struck off and was not accepting new business.

In the year before, from July to December 2021, the Fos had recorded an uphold rate of 95 per cent for complaints against Portal.

It is unclear how many claims have already been paid out.

According to Companies House, Portal’s last accounts were for the year to March 31, 2020. Its March 31, 2021 accounts are overdue.

Accounts from three years ago show gross profit falling from £4.5mn in 2019 to £1.7mn in 2020 and turnover falling from £7mn to £1.7mn.

FTAdviser approached Portal for comment.