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FOS reveals most complained about adviser firms

Sesame chief executive George Higginson

The Financial Ombudsman Service received more complaints about Sesame than any other adviser firm in the first half of the year, although only 20 per cent of Sesame complaints over the same period were upheld. 

The latest complaints data from the FOS shows there were 292 complaints referred to the FOS about Sesame between January and June, a rise of 111 per cent from 138 in the first half of 2012.

Openwork was the second most complained about adviser firm, with the number of complaints against the firm up 42 per cent from 100 in the first half of last year to 142 between January and June.

St James’s Place received 97 FOS complaints, up 106 per cent from 47 complaints during the same period last year.

Personal Touch Financial Services saw its number of complaints double from 44 to 88, while complaints about Positive Solutions rose 55 per cent from 40 to 62 over the same period.

Chase de Vere had 33 complaints referred to the FOS in the first half of the year. There are no comparative figures as the FOS only publishes data where it has received at least 30 new complaints and resolved at least 30 complaints over a six month period.

Between January and June the FOS upheld 32 per cent of complaints against Openwork, and 27 per cent of complaints against SJP.

It also upheld 20 per cent of PTFS complaints and 39 per cent of Pos Sol complaints.

Chase de Vere, which had the lowest number of complaints, had the highest proportion of complaints upheld, with the FOS upholding 65 per cent of complaints against the firm.

A spokesman for Sesame says: ”Sesame’s experience reflects the wider industry trend, with increasing numbers of cases being referred to the FOS. Claims management companies are behind many of these referrals, with cases referred regardless of the merits of the complaint.

“Sesame has seen a continued improvement in its upheld rate, from 31 per cent in the first half of last year down to 20 per cent, which is significantly better than the industry average of 64 per cent. 

“We are satisfied the procedures we have in place ensure a consistent and fair approach to complaint handling and treating customers fairly.”


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There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Given the size of the Networks and the recent Bank complaint statistics, complaints against Networks are minuscule in comparison.
    E.g in 6 months PTFS complaints doubled but the 20% upheld equates to just 17 cases upheld in 6 months.
    In the real light of day this seems to be a good result for all the Networks compared to Banks

  2. Always so negative! What about highlighting those firms with no complaints? Even if is just the number of complaint free firms/advisers relative to the total number this might help to give some balance and perspective to this sort of item for the headline makers

  3. It seems from the statistics that a high proportion of complaints referred to the FOS have no foundation. This would suggest that the public are using the system to adjudicate on a no win no fee basis. Perhaps the time has come for a system whereby the complainant pays a small fee on submitting their complaint which is returned if the case is successful. Regulated firms spend significant time answering complaints that have no foundation. This is a significant cost to the industry and cannot be sustained. I know my hopes will not be fullfilled but it is a nice idea. The deck will continue to be stacked against adviser firms and as the compensation culture increases I as a firm principal will spend more of our time fielding these complaints.

  4. A tiny number for the most highly regulated , be-littled and condemned industry around.

  5. So 80% of the Sesame complaints were clients “trying it on”. Probably encouraged by the Ambulance chasing “no win, no fee” law firms. There is definitely a case for losing clients to pay the fee to FOS that Sesame would have had to pay!

  6. 210 upheld complaints.


    Why is this not a glaring signal to the regulators that they have been looking the wrong way.

  7. how many of the 80% Sesame complaints were from claims management companies who submit all cases to fos as it does not cost them a penny ?

    they should be charged

  8. Re Simon Kershaw, very very true just 210 upheld complaints and given the complaints were over a 6 month timescale and for advice that may have been given over the past 25 YEARS when there were well in excess of 30000 Advisers.

    How much is all this regulation costing as a percentage of each firms turnover and time based upon an annualised 420 upheld complaints…utterly staggering, Regulation Sledgehammer to crack a nut is an understatement

  9. As Simon Kershaw has pointed out we need the figures showing the total number of advisers so that we can have an adviser to complaints ratio. We then need to split this between Independent and the others.

    Then we need to compare this to the figures from the banks that appeared earlier. From this we can logically see where the greatest portion of complaints emanate.

  10. 1998 to 2013, one complaint which didn’t get as far as the FOS as the client had forgotten to tell their solicitor that the meetings and phone calls had been recorded as MP3 files and so the solicitors comcocted complaint might potentially be used not just to defend, but to counter claim.
    BUT just getting to the stage we could rwjecet the complaint was a nightmare and as others have said, the consumer needs to be asked to put “skin in the game” for the FOS system to work properly.

    Well done networks, you prove you do the right thing an the FOS system is broken.

  11. Presumably FOS counts Sesame as one business in its boasts that most businesses do not pay case fees, conveniently ignoring the fact that the individual members are the businesses that, in the end, are forced to do so.

    Clear? Fair? Not misleading?

    I think not.

  12. The reason the FSA continues to “look the other way”, i.e. at small intermediaries struggling to keep their heads above the ever-rising tide of pointlessly excessive, prescriptive and bureaucratic regulation is that they’re a bunch of vicious sadists, determined by any means, fair or foul, to break the back of the intermediary sector.

    Interestingly, outside the UK, there’s no such thing as independent or restricted financial advisers. They’re just called Authorised Advisers and, if they don’t wish to waste hours and hours comparing every possibly suitable product to meet a client’s needs and objectives, they simply don’t have to.

    Client requirements are very simple ~ something of which the FSA has long lost sight, blinkered by its own butt cheeks ~ what are you offering, what’s it going to cost and what are the risks? In the real world, it really isn’t any more complicated than that.

  13. Good point Peter. But it is a good reason for being a DA firm. Any complaint is traumatic, but being proven correct and then still being forced to pay to be proven right is basically immoral.

    The networks need to fight for their members rights and insist the FOS case fee is based on adviser and/or adviser numbers and personal guarantee issues need to be considered more. Right of recourse took law for individuals is tkk one sided, ie the consumer is not just a client but an individual advised and the pendelum is unbalanced and an arbitrary decision of the FOS. Some rule of law needs to be re-instjgated a bit like the choice line has to stand in front of a magistrate (FOS) but the right took trial by a jury of your peers at crown Court. The current FOS system is judge, jury and exexutioner for a small business and dkpon’t get me started on FSCS and Key data, talk about circumventing systems, no complaints from clients about advice (all complained about Key data and the FSA itself) FOS circumvented, consumers plaid for Keydata’s own failures and then pursued with PI walkimg away & costs of defending higher than ones capita, adequacy requirement! And they wokndee why small Ltd ck firms settled with the FSCS despite wanting the cases to go to court so the truth of who bought Keydata’s SLS stolen assets and who let it happen can come out. Did Life mark buy the SLS policies by any chance?

  14. Any firm that once had 75% market share is going to have a larger share of complaints.

  15. And the FOS or FCA don’t congratulate the Networks for their incredibly low level of upheld complaints.
    If compared to Banking, Utilities, Motor, Health, general retail, these complaint statistics highlight fantastic customer service and quality of advice given via Network authorised firms.
    Still no new headlines in a fantastic quality result, just a job well done

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