As a highly qualified and experienced Chartered financial planner, Angela was blindsided when she received a complaint from a client that she’d considered a friend.
With almost 30 years financial services industry under her belt, this was the first complaint she’d received during her career.
Since the complaint came from a client that Angela had been on friendly terms with for more than a decade, the personal affront was upsetting. And it also created difficulties when it came to defending the claim.
Fortunately, as a regular reader of Jencap’s news, Angela made the sensible decision to ask for our professional, impartial advice and support.
Friend turns foe as complaint alleges advice fails to “address disappointing investment performance”
The client claimed that Angela had failed to consider and present a strategy to address adverse investment performance.
The complainant also stated that he felt Angela, was “not sufficiently qualified and experienced to advise […] and that poor ongoing advice and service […] contributed to the disappointing investment returns”.
This very personal attack left Angela in an unpleasant situation. She spent many days and sleepless nights trying to comprehend whether the complaint had merit, and figuring out how best to respond.
Following comments from the client about her possible impartiality and ability to provide assurance that the investigation was fair and rigorous, Angela contacted us to investigate, asking us to provide an independent review and advice.
In summary, Angela made three crucial decisions:
- Her first was to delay. Obviously, given the personal affront, some thinking time was necessary. While taking a beat before responding was wise, it left her with less time to act.
- Her second was to engage and explain. Following receipt of the complaint, although engagement could potentially exacerbate the situation, Angela contacted the client in the hope that they could resolve the matter between themselves. This was a mistake – Angela should have realised that her long-standing friend ceased being a friend the moment he lodged the complaint.
- Her third decision was to contact Jencap. Realising she needed to show clear impartiality and aware that she’d created a time pressure, Angela called us in.
Reassured that we could help, Angela’s third decision was crucial. As well as unburdening herself of the vexing problem, she could return to look after valuable business matters.
With only two weeks to the deadline for the final response, we prioritised the investigation and returned our final response in just five days.
To summarise, the final response directly addressed the complainant’s comments about Angela’s impartiality and ability to provide assurance the investigation had been conducted fairly and with complete rigour.
The report stated that she had “retained a suitably specialist compliance consultancy, to independently review the investigation and advise where appropriate”.
As ever, we carried out our own diligent and impartial investigation, taking a forensic approach to the complaint.
In this case, our meticulous investigation involved:
- Reviewing all the available documentation and meeting notes
- Understanding the client’s financial position
- Assessing the initial advice and ongoing service
- Analysing the investment performance
- Contextualising the advice within the prevailing rules
- Reviewing published Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) decisions for similar cases.
Following our swift but thorough investigation, we concluded that the claim was baseless.
“Considering [Angela’s] professional qualifications, record, experience and her servicing schedule, we do not uphold the element of your complaint concerning her.”
In light of the performance, our investigation revealed that the advice given “was and remains the correct course of action […] The decision to hold is the correct advice and was arrived at after a full review of your circumstances, investment risk profile and objectives”.
Angela is the first to admit that she should have talked to us sooner. Knowing she could have saved herself many weeks of intense stress, she’s expressed her gratitude and let us know that, should there be a next time, she won’t hesitate to get in touch.
The personal nature of this complaint took its toll – on Angela and her business.
Thinking that the problem will go away is wishful thinking and inaction will inevitably create unnecessary pressure later.
Engaging independent specialists as soon as you receive a complaint can not only make a significant difference to the eventual outcome, but it can also help you to remain focused on your business, allowing you to continue to support and service your clients.
Responding to a complaint can be stressful and immensely time-consuming. Attempting to resolve things alone will mean taking your eye off the ball. This could lead to loss of business and will almost certainly reduce your efficiency and productivity.
Instead, calling in the experts to handle matters will lead to a massive reduction in stress – just ask Angela.
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From evaluation of the complaint to the “final response”, and beyond, we take care of every aspect of the process. Plus, subject to your PI insurance policy, your legal defence costs may be covered.
Find out more about how we could help you resolve a complaint by talking with one of our experts.