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Wills & Co FSCS bill hits £650k after 80 cases with 1,300 to come

The Financial Ombudsman Service upheld 99 per cent of complaints against failed stockbroker Wills & Co in the first half of this year and claims to the FSCS have reached £650,000 after just 80 cases.

Complaint data published by the FOS this week shows more investment complaints were made about Wills & Co between January 1 and June 30 than any other financial business.

The ombudsman dealt with 387 new investment cases relating to Wills & Co and found in favour of the complainant in 383 cases.

In July, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme declared Wills & Co in default after the FSA stopped the company giving investment advice in February. As stockbrokers come under the same FSCS intermediary sub-class as IFAs, any compensation costs relating to Wills & Co are likely to fall on advisers.

The FSCS has so far received just under 1,400 claims against Wills & Co and 80 decisions have been issued totalling £650,000. An FSCS spokeswoman says: “Claims are assessed on a case -by-case basis. It is too early to say what the total cost of the default will be.”

Overall in the first half, the FOS received the most complaints about Lloyds Banking Group, with 22,420 complaints relating to Lloyds, more than the total number of complaints for Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays put together.

Lloyds TSB Bank was the worst-performing Lloyds brand with 12,750 cases. A total of 8,474 cases related to general insurance polices sold by Lloyds TSB while 4,051 complaints concerned banking services.

A further 2,136 cases related to Black Horse, a Lloyds subsidiary which offers personal loans and finance.

A spokeswoman for Lloyds says: “Our relationship with our customers is at the heart of our business and we take all feedback very seriously. Like every organisation, we know there are areas where we can improve and we are working with our customers to do just that.”

The FOS figures only cover financial businesses where the ombudsman received at least 30 new cases and resolved the same amount between January and June.

Sesame Bankhall Group had 108 new cases referred to the FOS. The majority of the complaints were to do with life and pension advice.

The ombudsman found 51 per cent of all complaints about Sesame in favour of the consumer, 70 per cent of investment complaints in favour of the consumer and upheld 49 per cent of life and pensions and decumulation complaints.

Openwork had 49 complaints across the general insurance, investments and life and pension sectors. The FOS upheld just 21 per cent of total complaints against Openwork.

St James’s Place Wealth Management had 38 complaints against it, with 19 relating to investment advice. The FOS found 49 per cent of all complaints in favour of consumers and upheld 52 per cent of investment complaints.

FOS chief executive and chief ombudsman Natalie Ceeney says: “The complaint data shows there is still more that some businesses need to do to ensure that complaints are properly investigated and fairly resolved.”

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