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IFA swamped by pro bono cases

Staffordshire IFA Richard Jacobs Pension & Trustee Services is having to screen clients to cut down on the number of pro bono cases it deals with each week.

The adviser has put a limit of two pro bono cases a week after getting such volumes it was effectively losing a full day each week in servicing non-paying clients.

Director Richard Jacobs says he can only afford to say a couple such cases a week and has introduced a screening technique which focuses on where the potential client heard of the IFA.

The bulk of the pro bono clients he sees are either referred by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or by word of mouth. The majority of the latter cases concern major local employer Michelin which has increased the minimum contribution to its final-salary scheme, prompting many low paid workers to seek advice on what they should do.

Jacobs, who is a fee-based adviser, adds that while many of the people he advises on a no-cost basis are grateful for his help, some of those who are in financial trouble and find out they cannot divest their pensions to pay debts can be abusive, seeing Jacobs as part of “the establishment” against them.

He says: “There are so many people who need independent, technical advice but cannot afford it. It is not always good work and I am giving my 33 years of experience away for nothing.”•Broker Talkback, p36;Letters, p37

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