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Pension transfer complaint lands Tenet in trouble

Tenet Connect told to pay for more advice after client asked for self-directed solution but this was not included in recommendations.

Tenet must compensate a client up to £1,000 towards getting more advice after one of the network’s advisers recommended a pension transfer that did not take into account that he wanted to manage his own investments.

The complainant, Mr H, wanted to transfer out of his workplace pension scheme to a personal pension. Tenet Connect, Tenet’s network of advisers, was advising the employer.

The complainant was sent two suitability reports recommending transfers to two different providers. Both reports were free and the complainant did not pay any fees to the advisers because the cost was covered by his employer.

After choosing one of the providers, Mr H realised he could not buy and sell his investments himself. He could only make investment choices by asking the adviser or writing to the provider.

Mr H said the adviser was aware that he wanted full control over his investments. He complained to Tenet saying he wasn’t happy with the advice and service he received, and that he was put into the wrong pension plan, which meant he had lost money. He also said Tenet had not taken into account that he wanted to manage his pension online himself.

Tenet said it was not responsible for the advice and service Mr H complained about, which had come from the workplace pension scheme and its administrators in the early stage of the process.

However, it agreed that Mr H’s funds were not invested properly. It agreed Mr H could manage his pension himself and that the provider had confirmed this.

Tenet initially offered to pay Mr H £74.47 for the lost money from his funds being incorrectly invested and £100 for distress and inconvenience caused.

Mr H referred the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. An adjudicator said both suitability reports showed one of Mr H’s main objectives was to have full control over his pension so he could buy and sell investments by himself.

The adjudicator also found that, at the time of advice, the provider Mr H decided to go with had a product that would have been more suitable but this was not included in his recommendations.

The adjudicator recommended Tenet pay for the cost of an adviser to give Mr H suitable pension advice, as well as £300 for trouble and upset caused.

The advice was needed because Mr H’s funds were crystallised and he could not move his pension to another product with the provider, the adjudicator said.

Tenet did not accept the decision so it was passed to an ombudsman, who upheld the complaint.

The final decision says: “Our adjudicator recommended that Tenet should pay for Mr H to receive financial advice on a suitable pension transfer. I agreed with this recommendation in my provisional decision, as Mr H was unable to transfer his benefits to the direct-to-consumer platform with his current provider.

“I asked Mr H to provide an estimate of the costs he would incur in obtaining financial advice on a suitable pension transfer. Mr H has not been able to supply estimates. But he has agreed that I should decide on a reasonable amount to compensate him for his costs in obtaining this advice.”

The ombudsman ordered Tenet Connect to pay up £1,000 for financial advice, £74.47 for the loss when his funds were incorrectly invested, and £400 for distress and inconvenience.

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. A lesson for Tenet. Don’t do transactional cases as there is another reason behind another potential problem. Clients who think they can manage their own pension quite often get it wrong. So when it does go wrong despite whatever disclaimer the client may sign regarding not wanting investment advice, subsequently complain to the FOS, the FOS pits the finger back to the adviser.

    Any client who wants to transact business with me must leave their funds with my firm. That’s because I trust my judgement better then anyone elses!

    • Quite. Clients of this type should be politely directed to a DIY SIPP platform, not least because we have in the past read of FOS decisions upholding a complaint on the grounds that merely having arranged a SIPP made it possible for the client subsequently to bypass the adviser and make unwise investments which turned out badly. Where’s the justice in that?

  2. I can’t see a queue forming to advise this guy for a thousand quid, when he obviously knows better, will obviously complain and the whole thing has effectively cost him nothing.

    I’d rather take the dogs out for a walk for a day than spend it in this way.

  3. And if he’d invested it in some offshore property scam the FOS would still have blamed Tenet and given them an even bigger bill.

  4. We don’t do pension transfer advice where we then don’t go on to manage the client investments. In the 1990s , as part of the pension tranfer review, IFAs and insurers were held liuable for the client’s own self-made investmnent losses – even where IFA was not involved in the fund choices etc. When this farce was put to the Treasury, Patricia Hewitt said “I’m not hearing anything but unfounded complaints from IFAs over the pension transfer review”. The lesson? Don’t do ‘sign offs’ and let DIY investors go away and DIY!

    • Quite ~ BUT if the provider with which you’ve arranged the SIPP (and the investments within it) is prepared to accept instructions direct from the client without your involvement, the risk of liability if it goes wrong is there and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Even if you do manage to obtain a clear statement from the provider that they won’t accept direct instructions from the client, he could still remove you as his appointed adviser and go ahead anyway. For advisers as well as clients, SIPPs can be very dangerous wrappers.

  5. Of course the easiest way around this would have been to provide the right advice in the first place.
    It wasn’t exactly rocket science.
    Ian Coley

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