I have just re-read an article in CTC Compensation Bulletin – Issue 10 (June 17) and part of it highlighted how totally unfair our financial services world has become.
The part I refer to is as follows. A client invested £7,500 in a firm's corporate bond and gilt fund. Three years later, the client wrote to the adviser because she was concerned about the poor performance. The adviser replied: “You may wish to consider transferring your plan into another fund, such as the European, and I am enclosing our investment record which shows the performance of our funds for your information.”
Thereafter, the client decided to switch funds and, within a short time, the value dropped considerably more than the fund that she had transferred from.
She complained to the firm, holding it responsible for her loss and saying the adviser had not highlighted the additional risk.
The firm denied responsibility. It went to the Financial Ombudsman Service which upheld the complaint. It said that the adviser had made a recommendation and had encouraged the client to take a specific action and should have explained the increased risk.
I have emphasised the word encouraged because I cannot see any encouragement in the letter. I am also reminded of a deal I made a few years ago on a new car. I was fortunate to have a “ticket” from a relative which gave me some 25 to 30 per cent reduction off the full price but, not wanting to pay the full cost up front, I used an options scheme which was encouraged by the salesman.
At the end of the deal period, I was asked to pay the balance, some £5,500, but I believed that the car was not worth that amount and had no alternative but to give the car back. Result? No car and £5,000 approximately out of pocket and no recourse for wrong advice or any other form of redress. What a difference in attitude to responsibility.
I am now 70-plus and still working. I enjoy what I do but detest the culture that we have to abide by. I have been in financial services for over 23 years and I always want my client to have the best advice I can give and always put myself in the client's place when giving advice. If I would buy it, it should be OK for him or her, allowing for any difference in our attitude to risk. However, the litigious society that is ruining our lives today and the frequently biased decisions made, make it extremely difficult and very time-consuming for us all to survive. I would never buy a new car again either.
D Tudor Greaves
The St David's Partnership,