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SVS clients plagued by delays at new broker

SVS clients plagued by delays at new broker

Former clients of failed wealth manager SVS Securities are still unable to access their funds as their new broker battles "teething issues" exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. 

SVS Securities fell into special administration last year after the Financial Conduct Authority identified "serious concerns" about the way the business was operating, with the regulator warning some clients were paying fees and charges as high as 20 per cent of their total investment

In June ITI Capital announced it had bought the SVS client book, unlocking £240m in funds for the 18,000 investors transferring across to the new broker. 

Clients, many of which had transferred out of defined benefit pensions, were expected to begin accessing their money on July 24, after it had been beyond reach for almost a year. But a number of clients told FTAdviser this week they were still unable to access their funds and assets. 

Investors said they had been unable to contact ITI via telephone or email for an update and the broker had failed to acknowledge or respond to complaints. 

One client said they had been "left in limbo with no communication from ITI" and another said they were "at a real loss as to what to do" with no access to their money. 

A spokesperson for ITI Capital told FTAdviser the delays were the result of "teething issues" during the transition period, but these had now been resolved. 

The spokesperson added: "These were largely due to unforeseen circumstances caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Our team has been working around the clock and has already resolved these technical issues, as well as increasing our back-office resources.

"We would like to reassure customers that any concerns will be swiftly addressed and service will now resume as normal."

ITI bought the SVS client book following a sales process lead by the failed firm's administrators, Leonard Curtis, and which at one time saw it up against more than 100 brokers also interested in the purchase. 

When SVS investors transferred to ITI the majority of the costs were covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, avoiding a shortfall in client funds.

An FSCS spokesperson said: "We are aware that there have been issues with ITI Capital’s systems and that it is has not been easy for SVS clients to make contact with ITI. 

"We recognise that this situation is very frustrating for these clients, who have already been through a year without being able to access their money and assets.

"We understand that ITI is continuing to work on its systems and is recruiting additional staff." 

The FSCS said it was monitoring the situation and, as per the sale agreement, customers who did not wish to stay with ITI could transfer free of charge to a broker of their choice. 

An FCA spokesperson said: "We are aware of the issue and working with the firm and joint special administrators to ensure they resolve any issues quickly and effectively for customers."