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Demand for FSA to suspend endowment misselling cases

IFA Defence Union chief Evan Owen is calling on the FSA and Financial Ombudsman Service to suspend all endowment misselling cases against IFAs until the confusion caused by Lautro projections is resolved.

Owen says IFAs are being unfairly blamed for misselling and claims he has widespread evidence of inappropriate charging by product providers based on Lautro guideline figures for illustrations between 1988 and December 1994.

Lautro required providers to prepare policy illustrations based on prescribed assumptions for expenses and mortality.

But Owen says, in many cases, providers misled IFAs and clients, knowing their own charges exceeded Lautro’s. Providers argue that they were not allowed to deviate from Lautro assumptions by estimating the effect of their own charges.

Owen says the FSA must accept some responsibility for the issue as Lautro’s successor.

In a memo to Owen, the FSA admits to identifying 11 firms in 2002 that used standard Lautro charges for the period 1988 to December 1994 where there had been “a breach of contractual warranty”.

In a bid to uncover more information, Owen has submitted a complaint to Standard Life over the alleged misselling of a pension policy to him in 1991, based on “flawed” Lautro critical yield projections. He hopes this will encourage other IFAs to take action against providers that sold policies using standard Lautro charges.

Owen says: “The FSA is allowing providers to get away with this and letting IFAs take the blame, despite the fact they knew there was a problem. If their predecessor set the premium too low and built in a premium shortfall at the outset, why should IFAs have to pay for it?”

A Standard Life spokeswoman says: “We believe we have conducted our business lawfully at all times.”

The FSA has declined to comment.

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