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Alan Lakey: Why we need to stand up to the claims chasers

Advisers should challenge claims management companies to rid the industry of false claims.

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It’s called the tipping point. Individually and as an industry we all have one. It’s the point when enough is enough and action has to be taken.  

My tipping point arrived last April. I received a grammatically inept letter from Aims Reclaim, a trading title of Aims Legal, a Blackburn-based CMC. Aims Reclaim and its parent company currently operate under special measures imposed by the Ministry of Justice. The letter requested the return of my client’s premiums in line with Financial Ombudsman Service guidelines listing seven specific allegations relating to a payment protection insurance plan. I have never arranged PPI so my sharp retort threatened legal action for defamation.

Aims Reclaim refused to retract so I invoiced the company for £100, for wasting 40 minutes of my time. This it declined to pay, citing an obligation to investigate under FCA rules. As a result I commenced a small claims action which Aims Reclaim chose to defend, thereby resulting in a four hour train journey to Accrington court.

Having heard my representation, and having seen a letter from the client confirming that no such allegations had been made by her, the judge invited Aims Reclaim to present its case. Its representative claimed that the letter was merely an ‘enquiry’.  The judge rejected this, pointing out that it contained seven specific allegations.

After studying the case law the judge established that Aims Reclaim owed a duty of care and that its letter, with its unsubstantiated allegations, had breached that duty. The descriptive she used was “lamentable” and I was awarded my £100 plus costs. Aims Reclaim then had the audacity to request a confidentiality clause, which the judge summarily refused.

What does this mean for advisers? Firstly, it is clear that should any CMC send a letter listing alleged breaches which have not been specified by their client, then it is likely to receive an invoice for wasting the adviser’s time. Secondly, CMCs which claim to work on behalf of their client will have to extend far greater caution because I, and no doubt others, will have no hesitation in repeating this exercise. Thirdly, can I ask that the banks, building societies and insurers follow this example? If every unwarranted fishing expedition and fraudulent attempt was met with an invoice then the present plague of CMCs would be cured.

Previously I had suffered from two fraudulent attempts to empty my wallet by a CMC which subsequently suffered enforcement by the MoJ. Unfortunately a little slap and a ticking off is of small consequence when the reward for chicanery and sharp practice can be hundreds of pounds.

For too long advisers have had to assume the position and endure the aftermath of devious and predatory claims management companies running rampant without effective challenge. Readers will know that I have long lamented the ease with which CMCs are able to draft barely literate letters suggesting mis-selling and containing detailed lists of rule breaches.

These claims are supposedly on behalf of their clients – many of whom remain totally unaware of the allegations being levelled or only believe they have been mis-sold because of false claims made by the claims management company. Such complaints waste time and money and may even involve the intrusion of an Ombudsman investigation even when no product exists and therefore no mis-selling can be present. But matters will be different from now on because on 9 October a court issued a verdict which will have a profound impact on CMCs and their future behaviour.

It is far too easy for advisers who have wasted their time investigating erroneous or fraudulent claims to simply breathe a sigh of relief when able to put the matter to bed. However, it is only by exposing these claims and ensuring CMCs pay the price that we can start to cure the industry of this canker.

Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Services

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Comments

There are 57 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. It seems you had dealings with an inept CMC as they had not established that the client had said they had or thought they had PPI. You seem also to be in the 1-2% of ‘professional advisors’ who did not sell PPI. However I do not know if you sold any other worthless or inappropriate financial products because I have never come across anyone who has dealt with you.

    However on previous occasions many of your colleagues have pointed out that the financial services sector is not innocent of the claims brought against it either by individuals and claims companies and have been successful because the product has been miss sold.

    If no product exists the costs for waste of time by a CMC are pointless. The problem with the industry is that it does not tell the truth and hides behind insolvency or bankruptcy of the advisor/s or behind the Data Protection Act and the hideous way the FSA now the FCA records who worked for who and who is responsible for who.

    Again I extend a public challenge to you to an open debate on the rights and wrongs of the industry.

    PS you cannot sue for defamation unless the information is imparted in a public domain.

  2. We're all doomed!!! 31st October 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Your response, Mr Soutter, is an irrelevence.

    Alan Lakey’s article quite clearly details the actions of a CMC who has, effectively, “made stuff up”

    Nowhere in his article does he berate CMCs who have legitimate claims, and I am sure that most advisers would support the fact that if a contract was mis-sold, then there does need to be a mechanism, and potentially support, with a claim.

    Your comment that the industry does not tell the truth is also misleading – maybe there have been some isolated incidents of this, as there are, no doubt, in many industries (including, perhaps your own?), but to throw this in the ring as a critism of the industry is, plainly, infantile.

  3. “we are all doomed”. You are a new comer to the ‘war of words’ between Mr Lakey and myself. He has been berating CMC’s in less than polite terms in at least two previous articles. I will there fore forgive your uninformed comments and ask you read his previous comments and the responses.

  4. Excuse me, but the bulk of IFAs “did not sell PPI”. PPI was largely sold as an add-on by lenders, and IFAs aren’t money lenders?

    The problem that Mr Lakey refers to is not confined to Mr Lakey. I have also previously had to deal with such standard letters when the firm in question had never sold PPI. And I get phone calls and emails all the time encouraging me to make a claim for my own PPI, even though I never had it. The problem of spurious CMC induced claims even makes it onto sitcoms e.g. Citizen Khan, which I’m fairly sure do not have an axe to grind.

  5. We're all doomed!!! 31st October 2013 at 4:16 pm

    My sincere apologies David.

    I have not seen any comments from Alan Lakey other than those in which he talks about CMCs who have sent letters containing inaccurate allegations, thereby, in doing so, inviting perfectly acceptable critisism

    Perhaps you could point me in the direction of any such defamatory comments he has made about CMCs in general, the majority of which I am sure operate in a perfectly legitimate manner.

  6. Mr Soutter:
    The CMC concerned failed to observe the requirements of their own regulatory body. Claims Management Bulletin 15 clearly requires companies to make sufficient enquiries with the client to establsih whether they have a PPI policy and whether it was mis-sold to them.

    They expected Mr Lakey to do their work for them on the basis of a false allegation.

    It is also evident the judge did not consider your previous dealings with Mr Lakey were relevant to the outcome of the case. Mr Lakey has done our business a service, there is no need for bitterness.

  7. Dear Mr Allcock I refer you to the previous articles written on this blog by Alan Lakey again like the previous commentator you need to read those comments to understand the whole argument, if you can be bothered that is. Yes the CMC firm broke the rules and worse still they where also accused of charging client’s up front fees not by Mr Lakey but by the CMRU. That’s is very wrong and they should their licence should have been revoked for that alone.

    I have too many experiences of banks, lenders, funders and IFA’s mortgage advisors of refusing to provide documents to avoid PPI claims, the industry in my opinion is rotten to the core. I have offered Alan an open debate anywhere he choses to discuss in public his concerns with the CMC industry and my concerns with the financial services industry.

    If you consider Mr Lakey’s comments to be useful to your industry you really haven’t read his previous comments………..missing from what he has said any concern what ever for the consumer. But then that says it all.

    Silence

  8. Mr Soutter, you obviously know very little about the IFA Industry if you claim ” 1-2% of ‘professional advisors’ who did not sell PPI ” I also never sold a single policy, and have yet to find a IFA who did. There is room for good CMCs , sadly there are many that seem to be simply trying to make a quick buck without any due diligence. I for example have received a complaint today regarding a PPI policy, for a Client I have never heard of. This simply isn’t good enough !

  9. At Mr Souter. I am pretty sure I have never sold a PPI too. The reason I say that is I am pretty sure I haven,t sold one since 1998 and I can only think of about 3 MPPI policies I sold EVER as most of my clients would not have been eligible. Ironically I have advised new clients to cancel PPI and MPPI except a relative who had MPPI arranged by his lender Nationwide who ended up claiming on it nearly a decade later and it had a 2 year benefit period and he claimed for 6 months before getting another VERY senior position with another specialist firm!
    I have never had a claim from a CMC, but if you want to put a date in the diary too debate openly in Ramsgate, Kent with me rather than Alan. Look me up on the FCA register and give me a call.

  10. We're all doomed!!! 1st November 2013 at 10:00 am

    Still not had a response from you, Mr Soutter, pointing me in the direction of the comments you allege that Alan Lakey has made that are aimed at CMCs in general, rather than just at those who have clearly flouted the rules – Oh, maybe that’s because it simply hasn’t happened!!

    On a different note, you also attack the FS industry in general terms by saying:
    “The problem with the industry is that it does not tell the truth and hides behind insolvency or bankruptcy of the advisor/s……..”

    A quick google search reveals that a David Soutter (You, by any chance?) was previously involved with a CMC, Finance Reclaim Ltd, which went into liquidation earlier this year, reportedly with many debts.

    Hmm…………………

  11. Sorry for the delay. the comments are on the articles on this same blog. The last exchange is in my newsletter Oct 2013 if you would like a copy send me an email address and when it come out on Monday you will get a copy. Other than that if you search the Money marketing site it will come up under Alan Lakey’s name.

    Huge debts but not on my watch. I was a director of a company on which even having done due diligence the owner (100%) Martin Matterson had been involved in a scam with right to buy tenants. On discovery I resigned. I was appointed to train solicitors to run financial claims. Due diligence 5 years ago did not show up this man and his record. The Special investigations Branch of the DTI eventually nailed him and he was struck off as a director for 11 years (15 effectively).

    You will note (you didn’t) that I was appointed in July 2007 and resigned 5 months later the company continued to trade for 2 years plus after I left and was eventually a compulsory windup.

    Your point was ??

  12. Mr Castle I would be delighted to debate with you Ramsgate is a bit far from Chester but if Money marketing are willing to Host why not somewhere in the Midlands ??

  13. This is a bit of a silly debate. You have one man who evidently runs a CMC trying to defend the indefensible.

    Whether he likes it or not he falls into the same category of the lawyer ambulance chasers. They are both parasites of the most venal kind. They are nurtured by the ever growing compensation culture fostered as a result of an ever dumber society perpetrated by ever more inept Governments.

    As the regulator themselves have pointed out those with a legitimate grievance can in fact pursue a successful claim themselves – that’s what the FOS is there for. If people are to idle or illiterate to do this for themselves you have these people taking up the case and reducing what the claimant might have received in the first place. Always assuming that they are honest – which from anecdotal evidence doesn’t seem to be a given. (Both the claimant and the CMC)

    Their defence is often disingenuous and one wonders if they really believe their own mantras – that they are providing a public service. I guess traffic wardens say that too! Even sewage works perform a more socially useful task. Perhaps the IFA community could enlist them to clean up this effluent.

    Yes we all know that we are not all as pure as the driven snow and that there are some very bad apples amongst us who have yet to be routed out. But what is Regulation and all the panoply that it involves, there for if not for that? Do we really need a posse of bounty hunters? Is their mere existence testament to the fact that regulation is not working as it ought and that the FOS could do better?

    Debating with these people is about as efficacious as remonstrating with a traffic warden. Life is too short. One way to clip their wings (in genuine cases), is to write to the client directly and offer to settle the matter directly and pointing out that by doing this they will avoid having to have their compensation curtailed by the fees charged by the CMC. Hiding under the parapet only gives these organisations oxygen. For illegitimate claims – follow Alan Lakey’s example.

  14. @David Souter – The offer to meet was Ramsgate in my case, The furthest I tend to travel is Maidstone (Kent’s County Town) for anything I can’t do here instead, so the Midlands is pretty much a no-no for me, you’ll have to find an adviser north of Watford instead (Alan?)

    If you want to come here I’ll debate the issues with you (not that I’ve had any direct dealings with (CMCs). I just think that on the whole as Harry Katz has pointed out, if the FOS were doing their job properly, CMCs would be completely unnecessary and even if we accept until the FOS do their job properly CMC’s (may) have a place, that should be the exception rather than the rule as most clients complaints should not need a CMC, FOS the FREE to the consumer service should suffice or preferably mediation instead of confrontation.

    The only dealings I have with CMCs is their contracted out telephone and text messages which are lumped in with the pension liberators and how ever hard we try on a personal nature to get these firms to respect the fact we are on the telephone preference service, they ignore it.

  15. Totally agree with Harry!

    We know what we see and what we have to deal with and it is futile trying to convince someone who believes his industry is wildly different from that which we experience!

    We are qualified professionals and should rise above such debate and he knows the score anyway 🙂

  16. Mr Katz’s comments about the client’s says more about the financial services industry than anything I can say. The concept of treating client’s fairly seems lost on him and on Alan Lakey.

    It must seem unfair to those IFA’s who have never miss sold a product that they are tarred with the same brush as others in their sector. However when you consider it from the consumers point of view;

    Endowment policies, PPI, Interest rate swops, MPPI, endowment mortgages, investment bonds, pensions, inappropriate mortgages, bank charges and so on. Is it surprising that consumers feel badly done to.

    The industry was responsible for all these products and the chickens as they say are coming home to roost.

  17. @David Soutter – After reading your last post I’ve actually realised I am wasting my breath. Don’t bother coming down to Ramsgate, I’d be wasting my time. As Andrew Mitchell found out, the only way to prove anything is to have a recording of exactly what was said and my experiences of CMCs has been nothing but bad and so have my clients who are fed up with being contacted about PPI and pension liberation when they never had PPI and don’t want to liberate their pension and suffer 55% tax charges on top of the 10-20% commission taken by the liberator.
    You stick to your little world and I’ll stick to mine and if we ever cross paths, you better make sure you do a better job than the firm who was trying it on with Alan Lakey.

  18. David you are completely deluded. And this is coming from another CMC.

    You are falling into the same problem most IFA’s fall into – you, and they, are taking this far too personally. Look at the facts David, most IFA’s didn’t sell PPI and most of the ‘issues’ you are referring to were generated by banks and certainly not IFA’s, so get over yourself and stop tarring with all IFA’s with the same brush.

    Harry, I respect your comments enormously and generally agree with an enormous amount say, however i do not agree with your stance on the issue of ‘customers know they can complain and can use the FOS’ – ONLY from the point of view that if it weren’t for CMC’s the whole issue of PPI would have never been raised. Look at the amount of money we have spent on advertising – this woudln’t have happened any other way. Look at the immediate response from the FOS – we dont want to deal with ‘single issue problems’ – they were forced to because of the amount of claims CMC’s brought. and lastly look at the fact that the banks brought a judicial review of the FSA rules because they were well aware of what was happening and what had happened.

    I dont take your comments personally and i agree there should be another way of people being able to complain, but the biggest problem is that PPI has become a joke and actually the whole issue hasn’t even scratched the surface and nowhere near everyone who is entitled to complain has. I have spoken to many people (friends, not clients) who have made a complain and all said ‘well i didn’t think i was going to get anything because i didn’t think i was that stupid to take out these policies’ and they did and they have got money back!

    Mr Soutter certainly does not speak for all CMC’s and i personally would not want him represnting me or my company. The INDUSTRY is not rotten to core as he claims and any problems have been caused by banks and certainly not IFA’s. I think there could be a useful debate that could be had, but certainly not by the likes of Mr Soutter.

  19. Annonyman

    How very refreshing and of course you are so right in many respects.

    Your post has served to shed some logic. This is a forum mainly for Advisers (mostly independent). Naturally therefore we view it from our perspective. Yes we take it personally, because unlike banks we don’t have shareholders or deep pockets to bail us out. When we pay it comes straight out of our pockets.

    You are of course right that the main problems emanate from the banks and the larger institutions. The play the numbers game.” We make a profit of £2 on this product. We recon to sell 200,000. That’s £400,000. Now a provision for complaints – say £100,000. OK we make a £300,000 profit.” That has been the business model.

    You will permit if I say that this is not even within the same universe in which an IFA operates.

  20. @ Annonyman | 1 November 2013 3:24 pm It’s a pity you’re posting anon as your comments do you credit.

    The dissapointing thing with MPPI is that the MCCB immediately before the FSA took over mortgage regualtion appeared about to look at the MPPI overselling, but it got kicked in to the long grass by the FSA for some obscure reason.

    Notice I said OVER selling of MPPI, but in part that was due to it being a non advised sale for most mortgage brokers, unliek most IFAs (INVESTMENT advisers) many of whom also had mortgage qualifications and authorisations. One of the reasons why those with feet in both camps didn’t get caught up as much with sub prime, self cert and MPPI overselling is that having doen a full fact find, you can’t exactly inflate someones’s earnings for a self cert when your records say their earnings are lower (or higher) and you can’t advise someone to insure against something they can’t claim on as that is NOT advice that is snake oil selling or “non advised”.

  21. “Endowment policies, PPI, Interest rate swops, MPPI, endowment mortgages, investment bonds, pensions, inappropriate mortgages, bank charges and so on”

    Lets go through the list.

    Endowment policies: Ombudsman Keith Taylor wrote “A with-profits endowment policy was considered to represent a relatively low risk method of repaying a mortgage loan and to be suitable for an investor with a cautious attitude to risK” when rejecting a mortgage enodowment complaint on 22 January this year.

    PPI – A product associated with credit arrangements not regulated by the FSA/FCA -and therefore generally not sold by independent financial or mortgage advisers.

    Interest Rate Swaps – I suppose in theory it would fall within an IFAs permissions but I have 28 years’ industry experience and have never come across an IFA selling one to a consumer.

    MPPI – The Mortgage Code Compliance Board said “The importance of this issue cannot be ignored …. If customers do not wish to take up protection insurance it is ‘good practice’ to have them sign a disclaimer to that effect”. I await complaints from evicted mortgagors who were NOT sold this product.

    endowment mortgages – I have already dealt with them.

    Investment bonds – my late father-in-law had some. They couldn’t be considered when determining eligibility for long term care because they were legally a life policy.

    Pensions – the last government legislated for autoenrolment. The current one has begun implementing it. Presumably both thought a pension is a Good Thing.

    inappropriate mortgages – Perhaps Money Boomerang would like to explain why the Advertising Standards Authority hauled it up.

    Bank Charges – not sold by IFAs or mortgage advisers but as I recall, the banks won in court.

  22. @Peter Turner – So well put I want to have your babies! Second thoughts not my idea of fun.

  23. @ Phil
    Don’t get pregnant yet. In my opinion Peter Turner is being disingenuous.
    Endowment mortgages may well have been low risk – but so are repayment loans. I think it says much that endowments have now largely disappeared. Endowments were a ‘maybe’, repayments are a certainty.

    Investment bonds. I will admit in certain circumstances are a very useful and appropriate product. In his father–in–law’s case that may have been so in time gone by, but the Social Security Departments of Local Authorities have more powers than HMRC and can if they so decide look through that sort of arrangement – and actually have done so.

    The selling of bonds to the elderly in exchange for cash accounts was in the vast majority of cases a flagrant mis-sale – as the columns in this publication has evidenced over the years.
    He glosses over pensions in a rather cavalier manner. Plenty of perfectly good final salary schemes were sacrificed on the altar of commission.

    At to PPI and Interest rate swaps – yes of course he’s right.

  24. @Harry – You do Peter a disservice by saying he is being disengenous. I remember well the change from being an IFA for NatWest in 1992 to being forcefully tied to NatWest Life in 1993.
    i always had a directory number rather than ex directory and when I left and returned to being an IFA, one of the reasons people searched me out was I didn’t accept what I was being told to think and questioned suitability of LOW COST endowments and particularly low start endowments, but as Peter states, perceived wisdom for a tied firm was that endowments were suitable and that was what tied advisers were told to think and you had to be pretty pig headed to stand up and say you weren’t going to do what you were told if you were the one qualified (FPC before mandatory) and the sales managers were NOT.
    That’s not to say I didn’t arrange SOME endowments especially once plans started to have critical illness included, but even then , not LOW START.
    A bad salesman blames his product just like a bad workman blames his tool. Even PPI and MPPI can be a useful tool. actually no, PPI was an overpriced waste of money, but MPPI with unemployment cover I have seen work for one of the few of my client’s who actually had it, hence why although it was his lender who advised him to have ti before I came along, I never advised him to cancel it as we also suspected he would be made redundant, it just took a lot longer than expected.

  25. @ Harry

    My problem is really with indiscriminate CMC complaints (notwithstanding that they can be lucrative for me). That was the motivation behind my post.

    However we follow your logic re: endowments then FOS would have upheld all complaints against them. The fact that it hasn’t suggests the view you express is at odds with that of FOS.

    Helpfully, in the decision I have cited above, the Ombudsman explains the reason for this, saying, “Having considered all the evidence and arguments, I find it more likely than not that [the investor] was aware of (or perhaps ought reasonably to have been aware of) and was able and prepared to accept , the risks associated with this policy in return for the possibility of a surplus at maturity.

    That is why he concludes “This sale was not ‘bad’ in my opinion”.

    Bonds – I think we are in agreement – horses for courses. My problem again is that very few CMCs bother to consider whether the advice was suitable but simply throw in a complaint and see if it can stick.

    Pensions – You refer to events that took place more than 19 years ago. 40 per cent of the current working age population are too young to have been affected and it is more than 11 years since redress was made to almost all of those who were.

    Having said that, I am not going to make unqualified sweeping generalisations in the manner that I accuse CMCs of doing.

    Earlier this year a CMC showed me a complaint it had made against an IFA. It made a series of very specific allegations of misselling, including churning and unnecessary products. When it showed me its evidence, I have to say I agreed with it. The sales were quite appalling.

    However, the individual who showed it to me is Diploma qualified – that is why they were able to identify the specific failings, and that they were failings not mere differences of professional opinion.

    If a CMC is going to operate to that standard I do not have a problem with it.

    I already have two children. Why does Phil want to punish me with more?

  26. First let me apologise for lumping all financial institutions together IFA’s are not the same as banks but these points are somewhat irrelevant to those who have been miss sold products. The financial services sector is in a huge mess. So many people are involved selling various products wearing various hats that to separate them out and explain what they are guilty of takes for ever.

    Without CMC’s PPI would have stayed under the carpet, these companies can best be described as sharks and they have collectively scented blood but you have collectively only yourselves to blame.

    The comments made by the likes of Alan Lakey and others does your industry no good service by trying to avoid blame. I am aware that IFA’s did not directly sell much PPI but many arranged prime and sub prime loans in which PPI was included in some cases hidden and received commission for it. The same with MPPI with the changes that came in 2004 MPPI was cut free from sale by lenders and the selling or rather miss selling started again but with brokers making the money. We have seen hundreds of MPPI policies sold for lump sum payments where the cost is over 20/25 years and the cover is for 3 or 5 years. All have been reclaimed as people thought they where covered and they where not.

    Pensions we are already seeing many claims going in for pension swaps particularly from old state industries to new private ones. We have three IFA’s who work for us who said this selling was rife in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

    Many other products sold direct by banks have proved to be equally as worthless.

    I appreciate the dislike shown for CMC’s and one accusation about them is true or for those who have done this….pension liberation. This is an appalling course of action to recommend and should be made illegal. I refuse to deal with companies who even sell potential leads for this idea.

    The industry needs to remember it is the consumers interests that they are supposed to take into account not their own bank balances. Alan Lakey seems to think this is not important I wonder if this was why Santander dropped him due to his attitude to client’s

  27. Below in below the line just for those “were all doomed” included who seem to think Alan has been maligned, from his own words;

    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    Like malignant locusts, claims management companies are the financial services equivalent of a biblical plague. They have multiplied, mutated, grown fat and spread principally due to the interminable PPI saga and, like other parasites, they search anxiously for targets anew when their current host shows signs of decline.
    Collectively they may be lower than a weasels belly but they do exhibit a form of primitive nous which is best characterised by their ability to appeal to the baser natures of the weak, greedy and opportunistic. They have readily grasped that dubious advertising entreaties are capable of encouraging complaints from the avaricious and the unwitting and they know that, like flinging mud at a wall, some of it will stick.

  28. @ David Soutter | 7 November 2013 11:01 am

    Having read the letters sent by the claim chaser who Alan took to court and the court’s decision, I would have written the same as Alan has written above.
    You might not like what he has written and the tone of language, but it’s pretty hard to dispute based on the evidence we see with our own eyes with unsolicited texts and phone calls from your industry despite being on the telephone preference service.

  29. @Philp Castle

    Having received in a previous role many poorly written letters sent by the CMC who Alan took to Court I would probably who written something similar – however I would have directed it at the company responsible, not at all those who work in the same industry. As Peter noted above, there are those of us who work in the CMC industry who are professionally qualified and have years of experience in financial services.

    And if you think you receive lots of spam calls and texts – this pales into insignificance compared to the amount of companies trying to sell me “hot ppi leads”. The vast majority of those calling regarding PPI are not CMC’s but call centres (usually overseas) harvesting data the hope of selling it on. The fact that some CMC’s get involved with such practices does the industry a dis-service as well as fuelling numerous regulatory breaches.

    My own view is that there should be a ban both on cold calling and the purchase of personal data amongst any MOJ registered firm

  30. @CMC manager – There are some good CMC I agree and I didn’t say I would be right to use the tone of language Alan has, but I still would have done if I had been subjected to as many attempts by CMC as he has simply because he deals more in mortgages and protection than I do.
    Investment and Pension advisers HAVE cleaned their act up a lot, as have mortgage and protection brokers, i think it is time for good CMC’s to clean their own chicken roost out, especially a Alan has shown some fo the practices are going to start to come home to roost as some of us put our honesty and integrity above the costs of pursuing a CMC who is making things up.
    David Souter needs thicker skin. We’ve all had to develop it over the years.

  31. I note that Andrew Allcock also runs a CMC. I have never had dealings with it – possibly because his firm has identified that my client have not missold PPI before submitting a complaint.

    I think his services are a waste of money but if consumers are making an informed decision to waste their money I am not an advocate of the nanny state.

    However one thing he does say on his website is “Certain companies developed sales scripts which guided salespeople to say only that the loan was ‘protected’ without mentioning the nature or cost of the insurance.”

    Whilst agreeing that this has happened in financial services, I know from experience that Certain companies developed sales scripts which guided salespeople to say only that PPI was missold the without mentioning that this cannot be assumed, that it may not have been sold in the first place, that product they are complaining about may not exist at all, that if the product does exist it may not be PPI or it may be from a provider that does not and never has offered PPI”

    As Mr Allcock correctly says, the problem was that the CMC wanted Alan to do its job for it.

    I sympathise with CMC Manager’s frustrations. I think when (if) the Legal Ombudsman finally gets jurisdiction over CMCs I will start saying yes to the cold calls then make a formal complaint against whoever I am referred to for calling me on a PPS registered number.

    At £400 a pop if everybody does that then those CMCs willing to purchase illegitimate leads will find it soon gets very expensive. Hopefully that will discourage them from doing so and destroy the market for those who sell them.

  32. I think Alan’s actions are a good idea. CMC’s should not make claims where no PPI exists. However as many companies try to avoid telling client’s when asked if they have PPI or like banks and in particular credit card companies have denied the existence of PPI when it is has been applied to the account, claims will still be made. However if you read Alan Lakey’s comments about the position he cares not one hoot for the client and that is clear from his comments. His lack of ‘customer care’ is staggering.

    I have been working on claims against financial institutions for over 12 years from both a legal and CMC point of view. So I have seen every trick and crooked act by FI’s that you could imagine with the banks and brokers being the worst culprits.

    Call calling and contacts from call centres. Nearly every sales force of any product you care to mention uses call centres. From double glazing to insurance and everything in between. Information is bartered for every day. Why should information concerning PPI or other financial products be excluded from the sales ledger, unless it is just to stop the volume of claims. Most people have been convinced by the banks and lenders lobbying that they are being bothered by PPI calls when in fact most people cant remember who called them and about what.. The same type of sales tactics are used by call centres on every product they are selling.

    We don’t buy data at all and reply on our network of mainly retired IFA’s and other retired professionals to bring work in and they do very well out of it. Should we ban cold calling, they have for personal injury and for referral fees as well. On this point you have to ask why ? most of the lobbying was done by insurance companies trying to reduce the numbers of claims, it may have succeeded but if this was a good idea why have accidents (numbers) and premiums both stayed at the same level. I smell a rat and it is a financial institution again !!!

    Thicker skin, its Alan who needs the thick skin and a lesson in customer care. I am well aware of the short comings of the CMC industry and report on average one firm a week for breaches of both regulation and company law. Alan’s attitude to CMC’s has nothing to do with the consumer and everything to do with the valid criticism of the financial services industry.

  33. @David Souter

    I don’t think PPI and financial claims should be different from other industries – I would support a complete ban on all unsolicited sales calls. My view is sales calls should be made only to those potential customers who have given a specific instruction requesting a call from a specific organisation and that this authority should have a finite lifespan. Whilst I and other contributors find their calls an unwelcome annoyance, many people, particularly some older people, find these calls far more distressing.

    However that is digressing a little from the topic in hand. Of the many contributors to this argument, from whatever side of the debate, it would appear that we are all in favour of Alan’s actions, whether they are advisers who are sick of spurious claims or those of us from CMC’s who wish to see the bar raised in terms of competence and professionalism.

    Can I therefore perhaps suggests that one of Alan’s future articles is a guide to the mechanics of making a claim through the small claims court via the Money Claim Online system which is actually a lot more straightforward than many people think. The more claims that are made, the more quickly inroads will be made into the problem.

  34. I give up with David Souter – it’s like talking to a brick wall.

    Alan Lakey is a good guy if you’ve ever met him (I have) I believe he provides excellent customer/client care otherwise he wouldn’t have so much repeat business and have been so well respected in the industry for so long. Nor would MM give him writing space and not would he have been voted on to APFAs board.

    As Peter Turner pointed out there are a lot of formal complaints likely to start winging your industy and the pension liberators way as consumers (I am a consumer too) have had enough of people contacting them on a PPS registered number and as I routinely have it happen, I have voice recorders on my phones and will play along all the way down the line until I get to the end user. By doing that I have been able to work out where the caller is actually sitting at their desk and report them to the FCAs task force on Pension Liberation.

    There is little difference between some CMCs and some Pension Liberators and their telesales teams are often one and the same.

    Fortunately there are one or two CMCs like CMC Manager above who recognize their industry has got a serious problem which needs resolving soon, but while Mr Souter may not be raked amongst one of them, his continual denial that HIS industry now has a larger problem than mine and Alan’s shows why he needs to grow a thicker skin and then go look at the person standing next to him in another CMC.

  35. CMC Manager. As I am happy to identify myself, so should you. Alan Lakey is a very good example of the attitude to client care in the financial services industry or rather the lack of it. He was annoyed at receiving what turned out to be a spurious claim for a non existent PPI claim. Perhaps what he should do is persuade his industry to treat client’s fairly. if this happened the numbers of non claims (a number which is grossly exaggerated by the FS sector) would vanish all together.

  36. @David Soutter

    I am continually astounded by your comments for a number of reasons.

    Firstly you appear to be surprised that you should meet some resistance to your idea that the financial services industry is rotten to the core. You are on a financial services website, populated in the main by IFA’s who have extremely low complaints figures according to all information provided by the FCA. It should come as no shock that we’re going to defend our industry and livelihood. Your stance is the equivalent of going to away match standing in the home end and being surprised as to why everyone wants your team to lose.

    Secondly your steadfast refusal to accept that the CMC industry is anything other than a knight in shining armour operating solely on behalf the public out of the goodness of your own heart. You would gain much more traction in this forum if you were to put your hands up and say “Yes, CMC’s can operate badly. I’m not one of them but…………..”.

    I used to work in bancassurance and can safely say that i have seen some terrible attitudes from advisers equally i can also say with confidence that i know of many bancassurance advisers who only want to do the best for their clients. Yes, our industry has issues and a small proportion have given financial services a bad name but for you to state that financial services is rotten to the core is simply offensive to the vast majority of advisers including myself.

    You are more than welcome to voice your opinion but don’t be surprised if other users of this forum will step up to defend our industries practices.

  37. I think a Saint would be annoyed at a spurious complaint for a non existent policy which it transpires the consumer didn’t even think was being made against Alan Lakey if you bother to find out about the case.

    Can you go and post your comments somewhere else now please Mr Souter because I for one have had enough of them. Go and find a CMC based blog. CMC Manager can stay as he at least recognizes your industry has an increasingly serious problem whereas our is DECREASING.

    There are none so blind as those who can’t see……

  38. Bigger……. Nick Wardle beat me to it 🙂

  39. Having been an interested bystander in this increasingly frenetic debate, I must admit that I am struggling with Mr Souter’s comments. He has lambasted Alan time and time again without producing any evidence – until very late in the debate. Strange considering his legal background.

    However, what is really strange is his point made at 1.33pm today…..

    “Nearly every sales force of any product you care to mention uses call centres. From double glazing to insurance ………”

    Whilst that might well be true in most industries, in the Financial Services Industry, you have to have the client’s specific, or “express” consent to contact them by phone. You CANNOT cold call. So the parallel is not really there when it comes to CMCs, is it? I, myself, have lost count of the number of calls I have received from CMCs (2 today, from one based in Swansea), despite my numbers being registered with the TPS for over 3 years now.

    I believe that it is this type of CMC to which Alan refers, so to lambast him is really a bit of a nonsense. Can I ask Mr Soutter if his company regularly checks the data they use to call, to ensure that such individuals are not unduly harrassed? Can I also ask Mr Soutter that if you are calling to discuss a Financial Services product, you should also adhere to the FCA rules relating to contacting clients?

  40. Actually, since a fraudulent complaint was made in the name of, and apparently with consent of his client, Alan would have been perfectly within his rights (i.e. it would have been “fair”) to simply sue his client two junctions down the M1 in Watford.

    Instead, he chose not to take the “fair” option but instead to go all the way to Greater Manchester and take the true culprit to task.

    I wonder if, in the light of this explanation, his client would have responded – “Oh please go ahead and sue me personally, Alan – after all, that is clearly treating me fairly”?

  41. @peter turner

    My understanding from the article, although I appreciate I have not see the full facts of the case, is that the client had not made these allegations or instructed a claim against Alan’s firm. I therefore think a claim against the client would be unwarranted as her views had been misrepresented.

    A better solution would be for the client to also sue the CMC

  42. @CMC Manager – That’s my understanding to as I checked with Alan. The CMC was lucky they got away as lightly as they did. This is a warning to dodgy CMCs ONLY and I doubt if you or David Souter fall in to that camp or you wouldn’t be posting on MM. For all his angst about the dodgy people in OUR industry David S is just firing at the wrong people, especially shooting at Alan!

  43. @CMC Manager I fully accept your point but Aims Reclaim’s T&Cs say ”

    ” You must provide us with exclusive authority; this enables us to engage your lender/financial institution on your behalf.”

    So it is saying “The client has authorised us to make these allegations against you”.

    So that would seem to leave the way open for the adviser to sue the client and the client to sue the CMC or, if the Legal Ombudsman ever gets the promised jurisdiction, to go there.

    That, of course, should not affect a CMC which first checks its facts.

  44. It was Alan’s intemperate language and his unreasonable accusations made of CMC’s that made me respond to this thread last month. He has it would seem a history of using intemperate language and on the MM site he is recorded as having been banned/dropped/de-listed as a representative of Santander.

    As to CMC’s they are not perfect and there are people working in the industry who should not be near any financial services business of any description. I have had a first hand experience of becoming involved with a real rogue. It taught me the lesson of real due diligence.

    That aside CMC’s are here to stay. They have provided for the consumer in general a good service by wining money back from institutions who did not want to pay up. With CMC’s the pay back for PPI alone would have been unlikely to have topped £1 billion never mind the £15 billion plus it is heading for.

    For the record I have met some very good IFA’s and we as a company have a number of them working with us. They never sold PPI and they are very good at seeing what products have been miss sold, is that poacher turned game keeper, I am not sure but it certainly works.

    PS anyone looking for a job please contact us !!!

  45. @David Souter – You made accusations about a named individual willing to put his name to his principles (Alan Lakey) because you felt Alan was tarring you with the same brush as the CMC who submitted a falsified claim about him. That is why i said YOU need a thicker skin as we have had to grow one because of the crap that comes out of many (not all) CMCs.
    Alan is one of the few advisers who has grown some balls an is taking on fraudulent claims and claimants and your industry needs to be prepared to start remembering the 9th commandant.

  46. I am at a loss as to what you mean. Where Alan’s comments about CMC’s offensive Yes where some of his points correct Yes. Does he regularly use offensive language Yes Do people in the industry accept this NO. I have challenged Alan to an open debate in public about his views has he responded NO.

    Santander said the following about him :

    Lakey was informed that his fast-track functionality was being removed following an audit of the cases he was submitting on 29 November.

    He then sent two emails to the lender about the decision on 29 and 30 November. As a result of the language used in both emails, the decision was made to terminate Highclere’s involvement with immediate effect.

    In a letter to Lakey, who is also a council member on the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, Santander says: “As a responsible employer Santander must support its employees and ensure that employees are not subject to abuse, whether written or verbal, within the workplace.”

    I did not write this it was taken from an unchallenged article on the MM site, these are not “accusations” but facts.

  47. @David Souter – How is “abuse” defined. I had a member of the FCA shouting down the phone at me a couple fo weeks ago, but I can’t ask not to deal with the FCA and despite making a complaint in the format that the staff member said I should I have not even had my complaint acknowledged as a complaint.

    You see, were it me having phoned Santander it is highly likely i would have got irate with their incompetence, but it is highly unlikely I would have been rude. The otehr poitn is I would have had a recording of the conversation with which to challenge FCA, which I suspect Aaan doesn’t have as I don’t think he routinely records phone calls unlike me (and have caught CMCs out lying as a result)

  48. What has the FCA got to do with he was banned by Santander not the FCA !

  49. Not only has Mr Soutter a serious chip on his shoulder, not only does he suffer from the stigma of being a CMC but he also wishes to dig up an historic piece of mis-reporting which somehow he believes will justify some position he is taking.

    For the record, as confirmed by Edmund Tirbutt’s article in Mortgage Strategy, I banned Santander from my new business panel for its nonsensical attitude which I termed corporate Alzheimer’s.

    They then wrote ‘banning me’. A bit of tit for tat that made them feel better.

    Get your facts straight sir.

  50. A chip on the shoulder ……I don’t think so.

    Your recollection of the article is at best disingenuous. The article which is 11 months old says Santander removed you for abusing staff in two emails. You claim you decided to stop using AfI’s broker panel due to its lack of flexibility around lending criteria.

    If your position was true you would not have needed to be removed by Santander as you would have ceased dealing with them. Santander are clear about there position you where removed for abusing their staff. I found the articles on this site, when looking at what else you had said about CMC’s.

    I first pointed out the unnecessary use of abusive language on here when you wrote about CMC’s the article supports what I said as did a number of people who supported what you said but objected to your use of bad language. You only have to read the articles to see who is right and who is ‘wrong’ about what happened with Santander.

    My challenge to you remains, my industry is not perfect but has nothing to hide, which I submit is not true of the financial services sector. Are you man enough to face up to this challenge ?

  51. @David Soutter | 16 November 2013 5:18 pm – Stop Trolling and get a life or crawl back under your bridge and die please we’ve all had enough of you.

  52. It would appear that I have touched a raw nerve with Mr Castle. It seems that the IFA world divides into two, those that care about client’s and those that don’t !

  53. I care about my clients, but I dislike internet Trolls intensely and you appear to be one.

  54. @Phil & Alan

    Why are you giving this Souter bloke oxygen? Just ignore him. This isn’t doing your blood pressure any good and trying to debate with plonkers like him is just a waste of time.

    I’m sure you both have more interesting and enjoyable things to do – even going to the toilet!

  55. Harry, once again I find myself in agreement with you.

    My blood pressure is nice and stable and I aim to avoid Internet arguments with cretins and grandstanders.

    Have a nice day.

  56. Spot on Harry

    I am amazed that ANYONE responded to this Soutter guy he’s clearly been grandstanding from day one looking for a audience. Just ignore him.

    As an aside, A client rang me yesterday (very longstanding) almost in tears and apologising for the fact that a CMC worm had written to us without his authority about an endowment he never had and PPI he never had either !

    Wasn’t one of Mr Soutter’s previous employers though at least I dont think it was !

    Needless to say a letter is winging its way to MOJ from the client and ultimately from us too.

  57. Dear All, to date I have been accused of grandstanding trolling and running a CMC. The last one is true. When I first came on this thread I came on not to defend CMC’s but to say that some of the comments made by Alan Lakey where both wrong and his use of bad language was unnecessary.

    Finally Dick how could a CMC write to you about a client without first getting the client’s details from the client. That does not make sense. If they wrote to you did they include a letter of authority. With respect the story does not make sense. if they wrote without authority why did you not report them to the ICO as the use of data without permission is also a DP offence.

    I note Alan has declined to challenge nor has he refuted the Santander suggestions concerning his rudeness he was rude to them and his language on here and his apparent attitude to client’s exhibited on this thread and the other from September was clearly not appropriate for a supposed professional.

    As to CMC’s or those pursuing financial claims they are an unintended by product of the legislation. They have been responsible for ensuring client’s recover billions of pounds and at the same time have created a profitable industry. There are some very bad operators many fewer than those bad ‘operators’ in the IFA industry but two wrongs do not make a right.

    If any single institution or group is responsible for the financial scandals then we have to look no further than the banks. Their appalling behaviour in the treatment of customers has led to the entire financial services sector including IFA’s being tarred with the same brush, Your reactions with respect don’t help. I do accept that IFA’s of all those guilty of miss selling are least to blame but squealing its all not fair will win you no friends…..particularly amongst consumers.

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