The consumer group says it has received an increased number of calls from elderly people who have been sold investment bonds, believing them to be savings bonds, after receiving advice from tied and multi-tied advisers.
Which? says if it continues to receive such a large number of cases, it may consider complaining to the FOS itself on behalf of the customers.
It believes this could ultimately lead to an FSA investigation under the wider implications’ regime. Which? says it has received calls from clients of Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley, the Co-operative Bank, Legal & General and Barclays.
Last week, Aifa called for the FSA to launch an investigation into bank advice after the FOS reported a rise in complaints about investment advice from people aged 65 or older, which it attributed to bank advisers.
Which? principal researcher Teresa Fritz says: “These people thought that they had a savings bond where only their income could fluctuate, they had no idea that their capital was at risk.
“The bank advisers were not actually explaining to them that if the stockmarket goes down, the investment would reduce. The elderly investors are now getting their statements in and wondering how they could have lost so much. They did not think it could happen.
“I worry these elderly people will just grin and bear it but the more momentum that goes with this, the more people will complain. It needs to be kept a close eye on in terms of the FSA and FOS and, if poss- ible, it might have to be raised as a wider implications’ issue.”
Speaking to Money Marketing this week, Friends Provident chief executive Trevor Matthews highlights flaws in UK bank advice. He says that in Australia, bank-owned life companies passed on profits to customers by offering them a better deal but in the UK they have generally seen “the distribution of life products as another way of making good money and the customer has not been significantly better off”.
A spokesman from The Co-Op says: “We take any complaints of mis-selling extremely seriously and have robust procedures in place when such instances arise.”
A Santander spokesperson says: “All our products are sold within FSA guidelines and customers are made clear what they are buying at all times.”
A spokeswoman from L&G says: “”If any customers have concerns they can contact us and we’ll be happy to look into their complaints for them. An experienced person will deal with their complaint.”
Barclays refused to comment.