I would like to introduce Steven Mather, a local solicitor from The Right Lawyer for You and Your Business. Steven is our guest blogger and addresses the serious issue of Pension and Investment mis-selling.

The Financial Conduct Authority do a great job at regulating our industry but what if you have been advised by someone who wasn’t Financial Conduct Authority regulated? It is rare these days but we do occasionally come across a new client who has previously been advised to invest into something that is unregulated or not appropriate for their circumstances. If this is the case a good solicitor can help.

At Northfield Wealth we work extremely hard to understand our clients, their individual needs and their attitude to risk. We only recommend investments where we know they are suitable and appropriate. We are qualified, regulated and insured to give that advice.

Read Stevens blog to see how you go about complaining to companies where you believe inappropriate investments were recommended and how he can help if you are unsatisfied with their response.

Firstly, thank you to Clare and the team at Northfield Wealth for inviting me to write a guest blog on their website. I’ve dealt with a number of clients who use Northfield and they have nothing but good things to say about them.

As a pensions and investments specialist, Clare has recommended clients to me who have sadly been mis-sold pensions or investments by previous financial advisors. Clare can help make sense of it all if you’re affected, putting you back in to more appropriate investments.

However, the reality for many is that being mis-sold financial products can be devastating and sometimes can involve the loss of much or all of your life savings.

I’m a specialist solicitor in claims against financial advisors and I have seen a variety of situations, from defined benefit pension transfers usually into student property somewhere, to the advice to an elderly widow to cash in her national savings and investments products and moving the funds off-shore. I’ve seen lots of cases of financial mis-selling and negligent advice.  

The important thing with mis-selling claims is that it is not about your investments not performing, or performing worse than you expected. This is unfortunately one of the risks of investing.

However, it is about what advice you received and whether the investments were appropriate for you.

All financial advisors need to carry out suitability assessments for you, including looking at your risk profile – how happy are you to lose some or all of the money being invested.

Sadly, less scrupulous financial advisors may convince you an investment offers “guaranteed returns of 10%”. I’ve even seen higher figures quoted – 40-50-60% return on investments!  Often the idiom that if it seems too good to be true… is true.

There has been a raft of legal cases and Financial Ombudsman Service decisions over the last couple of years about investments in SIPP Pensions, saying that even SIPP providers need to ensure that the actual investments made are sensible and suitable, even where they do not directly advise on the investments themselves.

So what happens if you think you have been mis-sold a pension or investments or suffered negligent advice from your previous financial advisor? The first step is to speak to a trusted Independent Financial Advisor like Northfield Wealth, a firm which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will usually be able to give an informal opinion on whether it looks like you have been mis-sold or badly advised. Thereafter, I would suggest you ask them to review your Investment strategy and objectives to see if there is a more appropriate solution for you.

Any complaints of mis-selling or negligent advice must first be pursued through the financial institutions internal complaints procedures. You can do this yourself, maybe with the help of your new financial advisor, setting out why you say the advice was wrong and how you would like them to compensate you.

If at the end of the internal complaints process you remain unsatisfied, then you are entitled to file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service, a free service which looks at and decides upon a wide variety of financial services complaints.

You can complete the FOS complaint form yourself and do not need a solicitor. However, I find that many clients don’t want the hassle or are not able to communicate effectively their complaint. I will also link the factual aspects of the complaint to the technical rule breaches as well, to bolster the chances of your complaint succeeding. FOS are currently inundated with complaints and so it can take 6-9 months to get a decision.

The alternative, particularly if it is a sizeable loss of over £100,000, would be to consider issuing Court Proceedings. Professional Negligence claims against financial advisors are complex and are usually very strongly defended by big-pocket insurers, and therefore it is important that you use a specialist solicitor with knowledge experience and recommendations.

About the author

Steven Mather Solicitor is The Right Lawyer for You and Your Business. He can say this because he has helped thousands of clients in disputes worth tens of millions of pounds. He is experienced, recommended and approachable. See more on his website at http://www.stevenmather.co.uk

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