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Blog @ Claims

On the Assist.Claims Blog you'll find interesting articles about pensions and investments as well as news and links to other items we find on the internet concerning the financial claims industry. The government is constantly reviewing legislation on pensions, investments and mis-selling and financial institutions are under increasing pressure from financial regulators.
If you'd like to see more information on particular topics, let us know via our Contact Us page.

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FCA Review Says Less Than 50% of Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Transfer Advice Was Suitable

In a report, covered by Citywire today, it has emerged that a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) review of Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme transfer advice concluded that less than 50% of the decisions to transfer were suitable.

Three main flaws centre around the fact finding process used by advice firms. The FCA has found that firms:

  1. Failed to obtain enough information about Clients’ needs and their personal circumstances’.
  2. Failed to consider the needs of the client alongside the client’s objectives when making the recommendation.
  3. Failed to make an adequate assessment of the risk clients are willing and able to take in relation to pension benefits.

The Citywire report notes the FCA findings in particular where advice firms had "outsourced" the specialist pension transfer advice process.

 “This opened up the risk of consumers’ pension savings ending up in inappropriate or scam investments” - (Citywire 03/10/2017)

If you have been given advice in the past to transfer out of your pension scheme then we would be happy to help you to determine if you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Do please fill in our short contact form below to allow us to start looking at your circumstances.

Gary Naylor - Partner, Assist.Claims

Free eGuide: Avoid Pension Scams

Free eGuide: Avoid Pension Scams

We are contacted regularly by people worried that they may have been the victim of a pensions scam, or unsure about how best to make a pension transfer decision. We've now wrapped up our recent experiences of claims handling, along with our top ten tips for avoiding problems, and published them in our handy new guide to "Avoiding Pensions Scams - pitfalls and solutions".

You can download our guide below, by completing your name and email address and clicking on the Send button.

Don't hesitate to contact us directly with any concerns or questions that you may have after reading the guide.

FSCS Claims Success Making Us The Professionals' Choice

As more and more advisers introduce their clients to us - we thought that you would like to know about the key difference that has made Assist.Claims the professionals' choice.

Our free downloadable PDF -  "FSCS Claims Success" - goes into some more detail about specific client case histories - and now that we have Financial advisers, Accountants, Solicitors and Mortgage Brokers all introducing their clients to us, it makes sense to share some of our most recent success with the FSCS.

You can download our "FSCS Claims Success" client case histories paper here. [download PDF]

The first thing to say is that we really don't like to take "no" for an answer from the FSCS! We have won significant victories recently by having closed cases reopened, rejected cases appealed - and awards won - and by challenging the calculation basis of awards where we believe that they were incorrect. We have also tackled head on, at the highest level, the biggest issue within the FSCS - the significant delays in claims handling.

The "FSCS Claims Success" PDF goes into useful detail about each of these issues, and shares some feedback from our clients who have received compensation awards.

But the real story has been the clients referred to us from professional advisers, for which we are most grateful. Our expertise and experience with the FSCS is really driving this."

Don't hesitate to contact us directly with any questions.

Lost Your Pension Details?

Lost Your Pension Details?

Lost Your Pension Details ?

Here at Assist.Claims we have now added a pension tracing service to our clients - as explained by Partner Gary Naylor.

"As a former Pension Adviser I am aware of many instances of clients forgetting about and losing their former company pension or personal pension plan benefits. In some cases they may have contracted out of the Second State Pension scheme or SERPs many years ago and forgotten about it.  A lot of pension providers from the late 1980's and 1990's have now either merged or been subject to a takeover so the chances are that the original pension  provider does not exist in the same form now.

Clients change homes often during a lifetime and if they have not kept their company pension or personal pension plan provider informed, annual statements will not follow. 

Deferred members of Final Salary Pension schemes are also at risk if they have not kept in touch with their former employers pension administrators. The Pension Trustees may not spend a lot of time trying to  trace deferred members who have changed address, which is how many lost pension issues can arise.

If your former employer has been taken over then the chances are that the pension fund administrators will have also changed and we can help investors trace them."

Assist.Claims will try and locate missing Personal or Company Pension benefits and if successful introduce you to an Independent Financial Adviser firm from our approved panel of advisers.

Contact us now on the form below to find out more or by calling free on 0800 254 5066

 

“Buyer Beware” SIPPS with investment in Elysian Fuels

An article in FT Adviser last autumn (FT ADVISER 29 October 2015, written by Ruth Gillbe) highlighted an issue with a recent SIPP investment choice. 

Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) are usually recommended to experienced and more sophisticated investors. The charges tend to be higher than Personal Pensions which usually offer life assurance funds with charges as little as 1% per annum. 

Although the SIPP investment proposition is far more expensive, it offers virtually unlimited investment scope to include direct shares and commercial properties and other more specialist securities. The SIPP provides the tax efficient wrapper which holds the underlying investments. An initial fee is usually charged plus annual costs by the SIPP provider. The Financial Adviser usually recommends both the SIPP provider and underlying investments, for which he is also paid by the client both for the initial and usually, the ongoing advice.

The SIPP provider will perform some due diligence on the underlying investment however in some recent cases the shares involved have become worthless, as in the case of Elysian Fuels which have been written down to zero from £1.00.

Investors will have cause to complain to the original Adviser if all the risks and costs were not fully explained from outset.

Although the Elysian Fuels case maybe extreme, there have been many other cases recently where the underlying investment proposition sounded too good to be true and ultimately proved to be a reminder of the old adage,  "Buyer beware".

(Gary Naylor is a Partner in Assist.Claims, regulated  by the Claims Management Regulator, and who specialise in obtaining compensation payments for clients who have been mis sold Personal Pensions, Annuities and SIPPs)

Read the original FT Adviser article here:

http://www.ftadviser.com/

 

Mis-sold a Halifax Investment?

Mis-sold a Halifax Investment?

Lloyds Banking Group Was Fined £28m for Financial Products Miss Selling at Halifax Bank - A record fine at the time!

The impact of this fine a couple of years ago continues to affect UK savers and investors who received bad investment advice from Halifax Bank. Halifax staff were incentivised via a scheme to earn more by selling more investment products to customers, leading to an increase in miss sold investments by Halifax.  Customers who were given advice by Halifax advisors will want to check if they have a claim for miss sold ISAs, miss sold with profits bonds, or other miss sold investments by Halifax.

If you feel that you may have a claim please contact us without delay, either via our contact form at the bottom of this page, or by calling free on 0800 254 5066.

"Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £28m for putting branch staff under such pressure to sell products in order to claim bonuses or avoid being demoted that they may have mis-sold them to customers." 

What kind of pressure were they under?

Staff earned points for each policy or investment they sold, and could be automatically promoted or demoted based on their sales performance, getting a pay rise or pay cut at the same time. An adviser who didn't hit 90% of his or her target over a nine-month period could see their base annual salary drop from £33,706 to £25,927, and if they were demoted again it could drop to £18,189.

Sales of insurance policies earned around double the points of sales of investments. The pressure was such that in one case an adviser sold insurance to himself, his wife and a colleague in order to hit his target and prevent himself from being demoted.

What products were they selling?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fine is based only on an investigation into investment and insurance products, not other products that staff may have been incentivised to sell. The products being sold to customers included stocks and shares Isas, critical illness and life insurance policies, income protection, personal investment plans, and investments into open ended investment companies (Oeics).”

Hilary Osborne, The Guardian, 11/12/2013

Financial Ombudsman rules against Mis-Sold Private Pension Transfer advice

Writing in FT Adviser, 28 January, 2016, Damian Fantato highlights the recent case of advice re private pensions transfers that has fallen foul of a Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) ruling.

The pension advisors have been told to compensate a client after recommending that he transferred four private pension plans to another pension provider.

 

FOS ruled that the advice given was unsuitable given the client’s circumstances. Financial Ombudsman Kim Parsons stated:

“The transfers cost Mr B money. He paid commission and a charges to set up the new pension plan."

“He appears to have paid higher ongoing charges. I can’t see that there was any reason to incur these costs.”

“The four previous plans wouldn’t have been difficult to monitor. Mr B didn’t have an immediate need for income. He didn’t need to transfer his plans to another to reduce risk."

“The few reasons Park Lane gave for its recommendation are not convincing.

“A number of misleading statements had been made. These included the nature of the previous funds, the previous returns and commission. The adjudicator considered it likely that Mr B had been misled during the advice process.”

 

One of the reasons given for the recommendation to transfer the clients private pension UK benefits into the new plan was that it would make his retirement pension plans easier to monitor.

The client said the recommendation was made on the basis that market falls were imminent but FOS felt the potential for market turbulence had been used as a way to justify the transfer, rather than it being of concern to the client. This has resulted in a miss sold pension allegation.

In response the pension advisors, Park Lane Financial Planning, disputed the fact the client had suffered a loss as a result of the advice, and said he was considerably better off.

FOS told Park Lane to compare the performance of the client’s investment with that of the FTSE WMA Stock Market Income Total Return index and pay the difference between the fair value and the actual value of the investment.

Is Annuity Mis-selling the next Financial Services Scandal?

Is Annuity Mis-selling the next Financial Services Scandal?

Do you have a claim?

A leading provider of pensions and annuities has warned that past sales of annuities could lead to a huge new wave of claims against providers. (FCA annuity probe could be next PPI scandal, Widows warns, CityWire, 23rd September, 2015). An annuity is sold by insurance companies to turn your pension “pot” of saved and invested monies, into an income for your life.

But a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigation has revealed that people have not been offered the opportunity to shop around for an enhanced annuity to match their health needs. Writing in The Telegraph (28th August, 2015) Dan Hyde and Katie Morley stated:

“More than 600,000 pensioners are believed to have been sold annuity contracts that failed to account for their health in the six-year period under review. Most were never made aware that relatively common ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure could have boosted their payouts by 20 per cent or more. In some cases, savers who missed out face losses worth tens of thousands pounds over the course of their retirements.”

Annuities work the other way around to life insurance. If you have complicating acute health issues, such as those mentioned above, then the value of your income is higher, because companies calculate that you are more likely to live for a shorter period of time.

But the FCA investigation, looking at annuity purchases since 2008, has revealed that a large number of people were not informed by their Bank or Pensions Company that the  “enhanced annuity” options would provide them with higher income. For pensioners with a £100,000 pot, this could have cost them over £2,000 per annum in income.

Do you have a claim?

Around six in ten people should have qualified for an “enhanced annuity”, but the FCA investigation appears to suggest that only two in ten were provided with such annuities. The key thing is to ask yourself these questions:

  • Were you in poor health at the time of the advice/purchase ?
  • Is this a documented matter of record with your doctor?
  • If you were advised at a Bank, did they fail to refer you to an IFA?
  • Did your adviser fail to mention an “open market option”?
  • If you were a smoker when you took out an annuity, did you fail to receive a higher annuity rate ? 

If you can answer YES to some or all of these questions, then it is worth getting in touch with us to see if we should make a claim on your behalf.

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