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Retired IFA says 18-month wait for FOS decision is ‘wrecking his life’

A retired IFA says the Financial Ombudsman Service is “wrecking his life” after taking more than 18 months to rule on a complaint on advice given more than 25 years ago.

In 2011, sole trader Phillip Griffin, 75, received a complaint about a pension transfer made in the late 1980s for around £60,000.

He transferred two clients from their company pension scheme with mining company Cleveland Potash to a Scottish Life fund.

Griffin says the clients approached him because they expected the company to go bust, which has not been the case.

The complainants have complained that the company scheme is outperforming the Scottish Life scheme.

To help Griffin’s case, Whitby Gazette reporter Sheila Witton, who worked in the area in the late 1980s, provided him with a letter in September 2012 saying Cleveland Potash was on the “verge of closing” on a number of occasions, putting the pension scheme at risk.

Witton added workers would have been “very worried” about the security of their jobs.”

Claims firm Money & Me referred the claim to the FOS in July 2012. The FOS upheld the complaint, which Griffin appealed. He is still waiting for a decision.

Griffin has been refused a personal hearing with the FOS on the basis the complaint dates back 25 years.

Foreign secretary William Hague, Griffin’s MP, has appealed on his behalf without success.

Griffin says: “There is no timeframe for a response. They are wrecking our lives. I am 75 and have run a business without complaints for 30 years.

“Every IFA in the country is living under the sword of Damocles where anyone can make a complaint about anything and you have to respond. It has been severely damaging to my health.”

Facts & Figures Chartered Financial Planners managing director Simon Webster says: “I have huge sympathy for this adviser. The absence of a long-stop is a disgrace.”

In an interview with Money Marketing last year, former FOS chief executive said claims against IFAs could become “very emotional” because of the close relationships involved.

The FOS declined to comment. Money & Me was unavailable for comment.


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

  1. Surely there is a long-stop on these cases and that is called ‘The Pension Review’?

    Therefore this adviser should be able to point tot he Statute of Limitation, being the six years from the event or three years from when the complainant was likely to be aware there was a shortfall. This would therefore clearly put this case way outside the FOS jurisdiction – which has to be driven by the law. The FOS had to be raised categorically within the correspondence sent to all pension transfer cases.

    The complainants would have had letter after letter saying ‘have you been miss-sold’ form the adviser and if he did not take action, either because he was not, or did not have a loss then a subsequent loss cannot be the adviser’s responsibility because no action was an endorsement of the position at that time.

    I suggest the adviser has been trying to defend the actions as opposed to simply challenging the jurisdiction of the FOS to adjudge the matter at all. I encourage him to raise this challenge immediately and perhaps even to do so through his MP and The Treasury which appears to be considering the FOS’s position on a number of points at the moment.

  2. I too sympathise, but have two questions:

    1. As the adviser is now retired, what would happen if he just ignored the FOS?
    2. How come he didn’t buy run off cover? There may well be a good reason, but this type of cover is available and I wonder what not more retirees take it up. Maybe the insurers are ‘not playing the game’?

  3. Get real, wrecking my life. Get some perspective.

    It’s a complaint.

  4. Contractually anon 13th February 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Pension transfer business pre pensions review is subject to the statute of limitations and would normally be time barred (with the obvious exception of long-stop). Exceptions could include customers who were incorrectly excluded from the review, or where letters were sent to the wrong address.
    In terms of a hearing, these would be very rare, and ultimately if everyone who asked for a hearing got one, the FOS levy would go up. In this case, it is difficult to see what benefit a hearing would bring to the advisors case.
    He always has the option of a judicial review, though this could be expensive.

  5. @harry run off is pretty limited, most won’t take FS transfers.

    If he’s found at fault he’s no longer trading so it will go to FSCS I would assume.

    25 years why has FOS looked at it? More to this story I think.

  6. @ Black Dog

    As I suspected – either way one wonders why he’s so het up. Even if he wasn’t incorporated I wonder whether the FOS has jurisdiction over someone who is no longer a regulated individual.

  7. Hang on here a moment…. The FOS doesn’t have compulsory jurisdiction over cases that had been effected before its existence (created through FSMA2000). The adviser has to give permission for a pre-case to be accepted under its voluntary jurisdiction.

    I should not suggest the adviser gave such permission. The client would then be obliged to start a law suit only.

    Has everyone been overlooking the crucial points of jurisdiction here? Please advise the widow and whoever is representing her as a serious miscarriage of ;’justice’ appears to be relevant here?

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