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Advisers left in limbo plan to take legal action against Park Row

A group of former Park Row advisers has set up a fighting fund to launch legal action against the firm.

A group of former Park Row advisers has set up a fighting fund to launch legal action against Park Row as they have been waiting months to be reauthorised and are still unable to service clients.

The group of 28 IFAs headed by ex-Park Row adviser Matthew Berry has contributed £7,000 so far to fund possible legal action through law firm Foot Anstey.

The law firm is investigating the possibility that Park Row misrepresented the position of advisers looking to transfer to new networks following a proposed sale of the business.

Foot Anstey partner David Turner says although Park Row is no longer authorised, it still exists as an entity that advisers could pursue for damages. He says: “The position that advisers find themselves in is awful. They are qualified people and cannot practise due to a combination of the FSA’s over-regulation and Park Row’s alleged misrepresentation.

“If the group can show there was misrepresentation on the part of Park Row and they were in breach of contract, damages will be the lost opportunity to earn commission or revenue.”

Many of the 240 former Park Row advisers have been waiting since November to learn whether or not they will be reauthorised under new networks. The FSA is expected to reauthorise straightforward cases in the next few weeks, but other advisers will face further delays as the FSA reviews them more rigorously.

A spokesman for Park Row parent firm Royal Liver says: “Park Row is not aware of any legal proceedings, nor does it believe there are grounds for such proceedings. We sympathise with the advisers concerned but do not comment on speculation.”

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Comments

There are 23 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. There’s no smoke without fire!
    Aren’t the advisers themselves under investigation for giving bad advice? A case I looked at recently would say they are, or at least some of them are.

  2. They should think carefully before they waste money on legal advice, first problem is who do they sue, second problem is who pays if they win, then they should consider who pays if they lose.

    Any adviser who is not directly authorised could find themselves in the same position because they would be expected to jump though the regulatory hoops created by the failures and inadequacies of the authorised firm. In effect they might not even meet the regulator’s requirements and have to start all over again from scratch.

  3. The question in my mind is just what is it that the FSA considers these people to have done wrong, on the basis of which it is effectively obstructing their reauthorisation?

    Without explanation from the FSA (as far as we can tell from what we read in the press), their livelihoods have been confiscated for an indefinite period, which is about as severe a sanction as can be imposed, short of a hefty fine. So what have they done wrong?

    And how can it be taking so very long for the FSA to obtain and publish clarification?

    Surely, these people have a reasonable right to know just what actions are being held against them by the controller of their livelihoods?

  4. Charlie Chester 21st April 2010 at 1:30 pm

    ‘A fighting fund of 7,000’.? I’m sure that’ll go far! Why aren’t they joining the FSA into this action on the grounds of bad faith. Oh, I forgot, daren’t upset the FSA who they want authorisation from! Get real guys!

  5. The FSA could not give a monkeys uncle about these poor people. There may be problems but these should be laid at the door of the FSA and Park Row. There probably may be a few consultants who gave bad advice, but after all this is what Park Row were paid to sort out. Park Row will not be the last network to go belly up so does that mean that it will be difficult to get those guys reauthorised. Is this another way of the FSA getting rid of people by delaying things and hope that they go away. Of course in all of this clients are being deprived of advice unless thye go elswhere, which will decimate the ex Park Row consultants client bank.

  6. The problems here are with park row and the FSA, but are being pinned on the advisers. – Bear in mind that almost certainly all the bad case advisers were re-authorised before the closure of park row.

    :- FSA, why are they just looking at these now – all the information and articles indicate they are only now categorising the cases and the advisers, taking a view on risk, – Dont they have a 3 month time limit to address these things, yet if we look back, what was done in that initial 3 month window, nothing ?? if something was done, why were no advisers authorised or rejected (as the case may be) within that time frame ? ? only now are decisions being made for a lucky few.

    Park Row – would have taken a % of all income earned throughout the advisers time at the company, for case checking and compliance. It is now clear that they didnt do this, or were told how to do it properly by the FSA and ignored this guidance. – continuing on as they always did, and ultimately leading to this mess. In addition, they had advertised to the advisers, that they would move swiftly and a “5 star” service to the companies they have since moved to – yet 6 months later, they are still not authorised. What kind of 5 star treatment is this ? ??.

    The fund they seem to have put together is not alot, but im sure it seems much more to people who have been unable to earn a living for 6 months, that to those of use, who are able. – Perhaps the FSA should have stopped paying the authorisations department until things were sorted either way. – Even if the advisers were to be rejecting authorisation, it would still be better to know and they can move on,. but surely the fact its taken this long, and very few have been rejected, would indicate that there is very little problem with those left, but they are simply being made to pay the penalty. on this basis, it would seem to make sense that the legal avenue does hold some merit.

  7. All IFAs should burn in hell!

  8. You never hear of investigations into the compliance officers of these companies who allowed misselling under their watch. Where are these little Hitlers now – will they be held to task?
    Mark don’t be so bloody righteous – what do you do in Financial Services and for how long? I have sold and been accused of Pensions, Endowments now Mortgages and next year something else Miselling. If it is sales and advice you are in and you intend to stay in this business as long and you in anyway are succesful just beware before you start throwing stones!

  9. Robert Donaldson 21st April 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Now you are authorised now you are not!

    If they were authorised prior to leaving Park Row and are simply joining a new firm, then surely they should have stayed authorised and it should be the new firm that is being vetted for authorisation. Or, surely it should be up to the new firm that is taking them on to take references.

    I fail to see how you can be authorised one minute and deauthorised the next by the FSA.

    Can someone answer me that please!

  10. Just to point out that Park Row Associates Limited is still officially an authorised firm, according to the FSA Register.

  11. As always the FSA will take their time to go through the eye of a needle. Why should they rush to do anything, they`re sat there getting their salaries come what may !! Perhaps they ought to try a spell of being paid solely on a results basis, maybe they`d develop a sense of urgency for once and see what the real world is like. I feel sorry for the majority of Park Row advisers, a few bad apples and slack compliance mean they are seeing their livelihoods decimated.

  12. This just proves more than ever that the fsa must be accountable for their actions.
    As things stand they can do as they please with no appeal process other than the often very expensive legal route. Even then it is akin to a david & goliath situation as money is no object to the fsa.
    These advisers deserve to know what is happening re their authorisation.
    If an employer were to act in this manner he would find himself in front of an industrial tribunal.
    The fsa are an uncaring bunch of bureaucrats.
    Peoples livliehoods are at stake here.Those of us not involved in park row should get behind them, it could be us next.

  13. In answer to Robert’s earlier poser: How can you be authorised one minute and then unauthorised the next?

    Well on January the 1st 2013 many of us will be in the same position. And guess what? I don’t like that prospect either.

  14. How can you be authorised one minute and unauthorised the next? easy; because the FSA said so.They are the law,under their jurisdiction you have no rights.They have absolute power which always corrupts.
    Even if all the park row advisers have their authorisation reinstated,they will have no redress for the loss of earnings during what must be a very stressful period.Meanwhile those who hold the scales of justice in their hands dine out on champagne & canapes and retire with gold plated pensions after patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
    Why not? They are all too well aware that should they get things wrong or misjudge a situation they are safe in the knowledge that no one can touch them for it.

  15. I do believe I have read that the FSA are requesting new powers from Parliament allowing them to do likewise for any IFA switching for whatever reason ie analyze their last 4-5 years files. Perhaps we should all contribute to their fighting fund

  16. Some advisers have managed to be authorised for mortgages and protection. On this basis it would appear that the compliance problems exist with investments and pensions (largely transfers I believe). As far as I am aware advisers were regularly updated on what procedures to take but the “mistakes” found by compliance seemed to vary and additional retrospective correspondence to clients was often requested.

    It seems that the FSA are now investigating numerous cases which were “initially passed, required remedial action or failed”

    A time consuming business as this applies to many of the 240.

  17. If peope feel there is no justice from the FSA and as in this situation no right of appeal, then I would question whether the FSA should feel safe to think that should they get things wrong or misjudge a situation they are safe in the knowledge that no one can touch them for it……
    Whilst this could be viewed as a threat to the FSA, it is not one they have to worry about provided the can put their hands on their hearts and say what they are doing is fair and reasonable and stand up and justify it. If they can’t and I was to loose everything I had worked for because of this, then I would spend the rest of my days, using fair means or foul getting back at individuals responsible at the FSA and NOT attack the FSA itself.
    You can only push people so far and I do think the cliff edge is nearing for the FSA…..

  18. I have now managed to find out that I have had all my the files in the current review reviewed, however I am not allowed to know the outcome. The FSA also still say they are looking at my case and will make a decision in due course. I am sure this is the case with many others. We are now facing month 6 without real information or a timescale of when we will be reauthorised. I dont actually know what I am supposed to have done wrong – if I really did have an idea I could at least have some idea of why I am in this hellhole vacuum.
    Even worse is some advisers who had left Park Row before it closed (and are in this review) are still trading, are still allowed to trade. Dont get me wrong, I have no desire to cut off anyone elses income, however I equally have no desire for someone else under the ‘same cloud as me’ to be treated differently!! How can this be fair in anyway shape or form. Is there anything that can be done – apparently not – well nothing other than kiss your clients and everything you have worked for goodbye – not forgetting the personal toll (mentally and physically). I now have three part time jobs, see my family for 1/2 a day a week and try to maintain a public client facade of still being a professional IFA – it gets harder every week when you see no end in sight. At least when you lose your job there is an end date and thats it move on, this is far worse! Had I have known in November it would have taken this long, I would have probably made different decisions. Financially we get by – desperate to be careful that your finances dont get worse or theres another reason to decide youre not ‘fit and proper’ anymore. Mentally its really tough – keeping a brave face on it all – everyone has their breaking point. All we want is a timescale and knowledge that it will be kept to.

  19. How can anyone at teh FSA believe that what they are doing is even remotely fair having read anon at 8.20 comments.
    If this were a criminal investigation, you would have to be charegd or released. Personally I think there is an argument for giving the FSA and all my clients notice that as at a set date you will start advising clients again and acting as their agent in the absence of ANY evidence of wrongdoing. I know it will not get anywhere, but at least it would make a point.
    Come on AIFA, you need to support people in these circumstances.

  20. After reading anon at 8.20 I feel so angry and frustrated on his behalf. The mental and physical toll must be unbearable.Anon at 10.16 is right, if this were a criminal investigation you would either be charged or released. The fsa needs to justify why it is stopping these advisers from earning a living and why it is taking so long to reach a conclusion.As long as the fsa are answerable only to themselves this can only get worse. I am sick and tired of politicians recent comments on what a fair, just and wonderful country we live in. That may well be the case for many in tolerant britain but certainly not if you are an IFA.We appear to have been singled out. Why is it that we have NO rights? The Lockerbie bomber had more rights than we do. How can this injustice be happening in modern day britain? Come on MM
    surely you can draw more attention to this outrage.

  21. I woudl like to add that exactly the same process has been applied to Alpha to Omega members. This has prevented them from continuing to work and reauthorisation is being individually scrutinised with no clear explanation of why or how we are to survive in teh interim. I am fortunate I have otehr sources of business, but I can fully appreciate the concerns of those who are being prevented from earning their livelihood.

  22. If the staff at canary towers were to be independently scrutinised how many of them would be deemed fit and proper to carry out their work?

  23. I’ve just looked at this all these months on, I left Park Row after a number of years working for them on the basis that the compliance monitoring was totally incompetent.
    They were reviewing files over 2 years old and failing them on the basis that the Terms of Business were out of date. ie it had a TOB from 2006 when the business was written but we were now using the 2008 TOB.

    This went on and on, there was little guidance for advisers on how to present the cases, forcing advisers to write business how they saw fit (after all we have to eat).

    Unfortunately, this means that those that don’t write business in a compliant manner would of been able to get away with things unmonitored. I should also add, I saw a lot of advisers there and I can’t think of any I would of considered unethical.

    I, amongst others refused to sign the annual adviser agreement throughout my tenure as it stated that we would be liable to Park Row’s costs in the event of a missold case. Since Park Row self insured that meant the whole lot. There was then a caveat that if they reviewed a file and it passed then you wouldn’t be liable, but since no cases were passed due to their incompetence that meant you were liable. Considering they were self insured, this is a serious conflict of interest.
    I could go on but don’t really want to start mud slinging, just glad to have got out before all this.
    I really think this was a company processes issue and advisers should be very careful how they respond to the FSA as they’re going to be opening themselves up to liability. Its definately worth paying a lawyer when you respond, either that or kiss goodbye to your homes

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