Platform Alliance Trust Savings must compensate a client after he was unable to make several investments because the online service was down.
The client, Mr W, had around £2m in his Sipp fund with ATS. In late June 2016, his advisers tried to make a number of investments into specific funds, however, these did not go through because ATS’s online service was down.
Mr W’s advisers contacted ATS, which said the investments could be made over the phone or by email.
In the morning of 29 June, the adviser spoke with an ATS staff member who confirmed the investments would go ahead once the system was back up and running. The systems were restored around an hour later but the instructions did not go ahead because some fund codes were not provided. They were given later that day but the transactions were delayed.
ATS said the member of staff who spoke to the adviser in the morning of 29 June was not an authorised dealer but a relationship manager who was just trying to help.
A Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicator said the complaint should be upheld because the adviser could have been redirected to speak with a dealer, which could have resulted in the transactions going ahead sooner.
ATS did not agree and the complaint was referred to an ombudsman who also upheld the complaint. ATS also did not accept the ombudsman’s provisional decision.
It says it aims to pass orders to the appropriate fund manager within one business day of receipt. It says its terms and conditions do not commit to making sure all instructions are submitted in time to make a specific trading point on the next calendar date. ATS says the FOS decision “disregards” the terms and conditions.
In the final decision, ombudsman Keith Taylor says: “I have considered what ATS has said but I think the complaint should be upheld. I am not ignoring the terms and conditions and I don’t consider them irrelevant.”
He says: “As I have said, ATS agreed to deal with these instructions in a non-typical way. ATS agreed to accept instructions by e-mail and Mr W’s adviser was told in a telephone conversation with ATS that the transactions would go ahead as soon as the systems allowed it. The systems were restored by around 11:30am that same day.”
Taylor adds: “ATS said that the transaction would be processed when the systems were restored. I think that any question marks about the adequacy of the instructions it had to make the requested investments could have been resolved before that assurance was given. And if it had been the transaction could have been processed sooner.”
Taylor says ATS should calculate the current value of each investment actually made on or around 1 July 2016 and compare this with the hypothetical value of the funds assuming the investments were based on full and complete instructions being in place before midday 29 June 2016. It should pay the difference, if there is one.
The FOS says ATS should also pay £500 for the delay in dealing with the complaint.
ATS says the issue occurred soon after the Brexit referendum and a high volume of trading led to problems with its system.
Last year, ATS apologised to advisers over delays, missed income payments and poor communication during its replatforming project.