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Network complaints swamp legal line

A leading financial services lawyer has called on networks to put their house in order following a deluge of calls to a legal helpline for network members.

Solicitors #Armstrong Neal set up the service for a week last month to offer legal advice to disgruntled IFAs. It received 214 calls. It found members were dissatisfied with their financial relationship with networks and 90 callers said charges were levied from their accounts before invoices were sent.

The network members also dislike product panels and, in some cases, alleged compliance officers were wrongly being used to police them.

Armstrong Neal is to send an open letter to network bosses which says: “There is almost unanimous distaste of being strong-armed into using a set list of products.”

It also found 95 per cent of callers said they would leave networks if they tried to become multi-ties.

The firm is in the process of setting up its own network of financial services lawyers. Partner Gareth Fatchett says: “We wanted the feedback on how networks service their members.”

Countrywide chairman Jim Gaskin says: “If you go to a lawyer for advice, you pay him a fee for work. If the lawyer is looking for work himself, he becomes what can loosely be called an ambulance-chaser.”


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