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How we helped after a disappointing provisional decision from the FOS

Handling complex complaints can be time-consuming, with multiple steps to navigate before reaching a conclusion. Some clients will reach out to us for help on first receiving a complaint, and sometimes we’re called on for advice and support midway through a case.

In this particular instance, a client sought our assistance following receipt of a disappointing provisional decision from an ombudsman case worker.

Read on to find out what happened and how we helped.

Making the most of an opportunity to respond to a disappointing provisional decision from the ombudsman

On receiving news of a disappointing provisional decision from the ombudsman, following a pension transfer complaint, the firm drafted an initial response. Fortunately, before sending their lengthy letter to the FOS, they asked us to review the case and share our expert opinion.

One of the hardest things to achieve when defending a complaint made against your firm is to remain detached and pragmatic. This problem was glaringly apparent in the response this firm had drafted.

Failing to be detached, not only was the response obviously emotional, but it also used a lot of legal language that was inconsistent and not always correct.

This causes multiple problems. Primarily, it makes it difficult to read, which, in turn, makes life harder for the reader and is ultimately less likely to garner the desired result.

Action

Our first task was to understand the case and rewrite the response to the Ombudsman.

Laying out the case for defence, we removed the emotion and presented the facts in a clear and concise manner.

We summarised the complaint, the firm’s objections, and highlighted the key areas of concern. This included the following three areas.

1. The disappointing lack of response from the complainant

“… we would ask you to note that […] we contacted the complaint management company to request relevant information to more fully understand client’s grievance and the position regarding (their) pension. Unhelpfully, our reasonable requests for information have been ignored.”

2. The timeline

The complainant had been a client of the firm since 2012. In 2019, the client requested advice about transferring their pension.

In June 2019, “the suitability letter was issued in the post along with a request that this was carefully read, discussed with (their) partner, and that a letter be sent in the client’s handwriting confirming that both fully understood the implications and loss of guarantees on transfer”. 

3. The client’s health

“We do agree with the PD’s conclusion that (the client) was not a vulnerable client but would ask that the FOS consider (the client’s) deeply held and sincere view regarding (their) health and long-term prospects. Not only did (the client) give voice to (their) grave concerns re (their) life expectancy, (they) went as far as putting (their) fears into writing when (they) provided a letter to our adviser.

“… Our adviser went to great length to fully disclose the disadvantages of transferring the scheme and at every juncture (the client) was advised of the investment risk as well as the risks in transferring out of (their) pension.

“All appropriate risk warnings were clearly disclosed on every document and (the client) completed the relevant applications in full knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages and the risks involved.”

We also highlighted other aspects of the case to support our argument

Due to the complexities involved in any pension transfer complaint, our response also encompassed financial viability, lump sum requirements, previous experience, benefits, flexibility, and death benefits.

In conclusion, we respectfully asked the FOS “to reflect on the initial finding from the investigating case officer which did not uphold the complaint”, making it clear that the firm would be happy to provide any further assistance that may help with their deliberations.

Outcome

The case is ongoing. There’s a chance it could go to judicial review.

Key takeaways

Although this case is yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion, had the firm taken on the battle without experienced support and advice, they would likely have made little progress in winning their case.

Emotion can get the better of us all, and when your firm comes under attack, it can be evermore difficult to remain detached. As such, any response you’re likely to give – to clients, a claims management company, or the FOS – could exacerbate an already difficult situation and potentially create more problems.

With many years of compliance and legal experience, we understand both the regulatory landscape and the claims management environment. Crucially, we take a pragmatic approach to help you successfully defend complaints.

Get in touch

We can step in and provide support at any stage of a complaint. 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.

Please email mail@jencap.partners, book a short call by completing our online form, or call 029 2000 2325.