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FOS sees 139% jump in film partnership complaints

The Financial Ombudsman Service has seen a spike in complaints about film partnership schemes as part of a wider rise in complaints about higher-risk investments.

The FOS’s annual review, published today, shows it received 15,938 complaints about investments and pensions. This represented 3 per cent of the total number of new cases received during the year, on a level with the proportion of investments and pensions complaints in the previous year. 

The FOS received 3,104 complaints about investment-linked products in 2013/14, down by 34 per cent from 4,697 the previous year.

However, the number of complaints about film partnerships jumped by 139 per cent year-on-year, from 84 to 201.

Film partnership schemes offer tax relief on film investment, but have been in the spotlight after tax tribunals ruled against a number of schemes, including Eclipse 35. Eclipse 35 included high profile investors including retired Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

It has previously been suggested that investors may claim against their advisers for recommending the schemes.

The FOS says: “When markets are relatively buoyant, we tend to receive fewer complaints about what might be called ‘conventional’ investments – and this was the case during the year.

“However, we saw significantly more complaints involving unregulated collective investment schemes and similar higher-risk investments. This might be because, despite better performing markets generally, some of these funds have not done so well.”

Figures released yesterday revealed the FOS saw a 49 per cent increase in complaints relating to self-invested personal pensions, from 697 in 2012/13 to 1,039 in 2013/14. The FOS says the majority of complaints relate to advice to invest in Ucis.

Overall, pensions complaints were relatively static at 4,361 in 2013/14 compared to 4,401 in 2012/13.

Complaints about mortgages rose by 6 per cent, from 11,920 in 2012/13 to 12,606 in 2013/14.

Investment and pension complaints accounted for 3 per cent of FOS complaints last year at 15,938, down from 19,834 in the previous year when they accounted for 4 per cent of complaints.

In total the FOS received 512,167 complaints in 2013/14, up by 1 per cent from 508,881 complaints the previous year. It upheld 58 per cent of complaints.

Payment protection insurance accounted for 78 per cent of cases. The number of PPI complaints rose by 6 per cent from 378,699 in 2012/13 to 399,939 in 2013/14.

FOS chief ombudsman Tony Boorman says: “It’s been an unprecedented 12 months for the ombudsman by anyone’s standards. Complaints continued at record levels – and we resolved over half a million cases during the year.

“Whether it’s dealing with a complex pension complaint or problems with a mobile banking app, the financial services sector continues to face the challenge of putting the customer at the centre of their business.”

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