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If things go wrong complete guide


About this guide This guide gives you clear, unbiased advice along with general information about financial products and services to help you make informed choices.

Contents Endowment mortgage complaints

3

Endowment mortgage compensation 27 Making a complaint

29

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Endowment mortgage complaints


The Money Advice Service is here to help you manage your money better. We provide clear, unbiased advice to help you make informed choices.

We try to ensure that the information and advice in this guide is correct at time of print. For up-to-date information and money advice please visit our website – moneyadviceservice.org.uk.


About this guide This guide is for you if you want to make a complaint about the way your endowment mortgage was sold. When you read it you will know: ■■ what you can complain about and how to do it ■■ what ■■ how

the limits for complaining are, and

compensation is worked out.

Contents How endowment mortgages work

6

Key things to think about

8

How to make a complaint

12

Your questions answered

17

Next steps

19

Jargon buster

20

Useful contacts

22

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How endowment mortgages work If you took out an interest-only mortgage, you may have been sold an endowment policy. An interest-only mortgage means that your monthly payments to the lender only cover the interest on the loan. They do not pay off any of the capital. An endowment policy is an investment plan that you usually pay into each month. Your money is invested – for example in shares or bonds – with the aim of making it grow enough to pay off the original loan when the mortgage term ends. The combination of an interest-only mortgage and an endowment policy to pay it off is known as an endowment mortgage. See the Jargon buster on page 16 for an explanation of some words you may come across.

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If you are worried that your policy value won’t be enough to repay your mortgage, don’t make any hasty decisions. Check the facts first. Never cash in your policy or stop your payments without taking professional advice. You could lose out if you do.

Review your endowment mortgage If you have an endowment policy, you should have received regular letters over the last few years telling you whether your policy is on track to repay your mortgage. These are called reprojection letters. They tell you: ■■ whether

your policy is still on track to pay out the amount needed to repay your mortgage at the end of the term

■■ the

amount of any projected shortfall

Your endowment mortgage

■■ the

options open to you, and

As the growth of investments can vary, there is usually no guarantee that the endowment policy will pay out enough to repay the mortgage at the end of the term.

If you haven’t received a reprojection letter, contact your policy provider and ask for one. If you have received a reprojection letter, make sure you read it and take action if you need to.

■■ what

further action you need to take.


How you’re protected The Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulates financial services firms, including those that sell endowment policies. This means the FSA sets standards that firms have to meet and can take action if they don’t. The FSA also has rules about the way firms should handle consumer complaints and gives guidance to firms about how they should calculate compensation. The FSA is the UK’s financial services regulator.

Key points ■■ Check

you’ve had a reprojection letter from your endowment policy provider.

■■ Read

it and take action if you need to.

■■ Never

cash in your policy or stop your payments without taking professional financial advice.

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Key things to think about If you think there is likely to be a shortfall and you may have been mis-sold your endowment mortgage, you may be able to get compensation.

Grounds for complaint Before you can get compensation you need to show that you have grounds for a complaint and that you have lost out financially as a result.

You may have grounds for complaint if your adviser did not:

You may also have a valid complaint in the following situations:

■■ tell

■■ Your

you how your money would be invested and explain the risks involved; or

■■ explain

that an endowment policy is a long-term commitment that often gives a poor return if you cash it in early; or

■■ check

you were comfortable with the risks of your money being linked to investment performance, including the stock market; or

■■ check

there was a reasonable expectation you would be able to keep up payments until the end of the term; or

■■ explain

any fees and charges and how they would affect the return on your savings. If you bought your endowment policy between 29 April 1988 and 31 December 1994, you

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should have been given ‘product particulars’. These are various details about your policy, including charges and surrender values for the first five years. If you bought your policy on or after 1 January 1995, you should have been given a ‘Key Features’ document. This gives details of fees and charges and how they affect your savings over the longer term.

endowment policy finishes after you retire – if the adviser did not check that you were likely to be able to afford to carry on paying the premiums after you retired.

■■ You

were advised to cancel one endowment policy and take out another. An endowment policy is a long-term investment that often gives a poor return if you cash it in early. You should usually avoid cashing in one policy and taking out another for the same purpose.

■■ Your

endowment policy runs on after your mortgage loan is due to finish – because an endowment policy sold to repay a mortgage loan will not normally be suitable if it finishes after the date when the loan has to be repaid.


■■ You

were given a guarantee that the endowment policy would pay off your mortgage loan – as long as you can show that you were told that the endowment policy was guaranteed to pay out enough to pay off your mortgage loan and that this was part of the legal contract between you and the firm. This is likely to be rare.

If you haven’t lost out, but are still unhappy with the risks of an endowment policy, you may be able to switch to a repayment mortgage. If the firm that sold you the policy has upheld your complaint, it should help you switch. It should also ensure that you don’t lose out if you have to pay any charges, such as charges for transferring your mortgage. An endowment policy includes life insurance cover so that the mortgage loan will be repaid if you die early. If you stop the endowment when you move to a repayment mortgage and you need life cover, you should make other arrangements through a mortgage protection policy or other life insurance policy.

Getting compensation If you have a valid complaint, you will still only receive compensation if you have lost out financially because of the endowment policy you were sold. No compensation is due, for example, if your endowment policy has grown and is now worth more than the capital you would have repaid on an equivalent repayment mortgage.

How compensation is calculated Compensation is usually based on what your position would have been now if you had not been sold the policy but had taken out a repayment mortgage instead. It is not based on what you expected the policy to be worth. When calculating mortgage endowment compensation, firms should follow the guidance set by the FSA. So, if the firm has offered compensation in line with the FSA’s guidance, you can assume it is a fair offer. If you don’t understand how the firm calculated it, or you think there may be a mistake in the calculation, contact the firm and ask for a breakdown of the figures.

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The calculation involves comparing: ■■ the

mortgage interest and endowment policy premiums you have actually paid and the current surrender value of your mortgage endowment policy, with

If you have already surrendered your endowment policy and changed to a repayment mortgage Calculating compensation involves comparing:

■■ the

■■ the

In some cases other factors need to be considered in the overall calculation. For example:

■■ the

mortgage interest and capital repayments you would have paid on an equivalent repayment mortgage, and how much capital you would have paid off the mortgage.

■■ whether

life assurance was needed;

■■ whether

the policy ran past your retirement date;

■■ the

type of endowment policy (for example, low start); or

■■ the

extent to which you could reasonably have avoided or reduced the loss by taking prompt action. (This is also called mitigation.)

mortgage interest and endowment policy premiums you had actually paid, up to when you surrendered the policy, and the amount you received when the policy was surrendered, with mortgage interest and capital repayments you would have paid on an equivalent repayment mortgage, and how much capital you would have paid off your mortgage, up to the point when you changed to a repayment mortgage.

If you changed to a repayment mortgage after receiving a reprojection letter but still have an endowment policy in place The advising firm will usually calculate compensation up to the date when you changed to a repayment mortgage. This is because the endowment policy was originally taken out to repay a mortgage. So compensation is usually calculated up to the point when the endowment policy stopped being used to repay the mortgage.

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Paying tax on compensation Where the compensation simply puts you back in the position you would have been in if you had taken a repayment mortgage instead, then usually you won’t have to pay tax on it. But sometimes, the particular circumstances of the case mean that the compensation calculation includes an amount of additional interest, and then you will have to pay tax on the interest in the normal way. In certain other cases, for example if the policy is sold, surrendered or varied, the FSA’s guidance to firms is that it may be appropriate for them to pay any personal tax liability that may arise. If you are not sure where you stand, or need help with calculating the amount of tax that may be due, you should contact HM Revenue and Customs – see Useful contacts.

Key points ■■ You

need to show that you have grounds for a complaint and that you have lost out financially as a result.

■■ No

compensation is due if you are not worse off financially.

■■ If

you haven’t lost out but are still unhappy with the risks of an endowment policy, you may be able to switch to a repayment mortgage.

■■ If

you switch to a repayment mortgage and need life cover, you will need to make other arrangements through a mortgage protection policy or other life insurance policy.

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How to make a complaint If you want to make a complaint, do it now, as there are time limits Making a complaint is easy and free. It is usually best to make your complaint in writing. If you phone, make sure you keep detailed notes of your conversation, including the name of the person you spoke to and the date and time you called.

Step 1 – First complain to the firm that sold you the endowment policy. This may be a financial adviser, the endowment company or your mortgage lender. Check with the endowment company if you’re not sure who you should complain to, as they will have the details. Firms regulated by the FSA must have a formal complaints procedure and tell you how to use it. Try to find all the paperwork and any notes you made at the time. You are entitled to copies of the sales paperwork from the firm that sold you the endowment policy. When you make a complaint, the firm may send you a questionnaire (usually called an endowment mortgage questionnaire) to complete and return to them. Fill this in as far as you can – it will speed up the process. 12

Step 2 – If you’re not happy with the firm’s decision, you can usually take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (the Ombudsman) – see Useful contacts. You must do this within six months of the firm sending you a ‘final response’ letter. The Ombudsman is independent and provides a free, effective, straightforward process for resolving disputes. If you are thinking of taking your complaint to the Ombudsman, you can call their Contact Centre for help. You can choose whether or not to accept the Ombudsman’s decision. If you accept, it is binding on both you and the firm. If you don’t accept, you can take your case to court. There will be a charge for doing this, and depending on what your claim is for, time limits may apply.


If you were advised to take out your policy before 29 April 1988 Selling and giving advice about endowment policies did not become regulated until 29 April 1988. Some firms voluntarily agreed to allow the Ombudsman to look at complaints about advice and sales before this date. However, not all firms did, and most independent financial advisers did not. You can contact the Ombudsman to check if the firm you are complaining to signed up to the voluntary arrangements. If the firm you are complaining to signed up to the voluntary arrangements, it should handle your complaint in line with the FSA’s complaint-handling rules. These include telling you when you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman. If the firm did not sign up to the voluntary arrangements, you can still complain to it, but it need not follow the FSA’s rules. This also means that if you cannot resolve your complaint with the firm, you will not be able to take your complaint to the Ombudsman.

complaint to the Ombudsman, even if the firm did not sign up to the voluntary arrangements. Check with the Ombudsman if you are unsure.

Endowment policies bought on advice from a solicitor If you bought your policy on advice from a solicitor, complain to the solicitor first. If you are unhappy with the solicitor’s decision, and bought your policy before 1 December 2001, you will need to take your complaint to the relevant complaints scheme. Depending on where the solicitor is, contact either the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Northern Ireland or the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales – see Useful contacts. However, if you bought your endowment policy on advice from a solicitor on or after 1 December 2001, you should follow the usual complaints procedure. If your solicitor has ceased trading, contact the relevant law society – see Useful contacts.

If you were advised before 29 April 1988 but took out the policy after that date, you may still be able to refer your moneyadviceservice.org.uk

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Complain as soon as possible You should make your complaint as soon as possible as you can only make a complaint about the sale of your endowment policy within certain time limits. If you complain after these time limits a firm can usually reject your complaint as being out of time – known as ‘time-barring’. It can also ask the Ombudsman to reject the complaint on similar grounds. For example, your complaint can be rejected if: ■■ you

receive a letter warning of a high risk of a shortfall; then receive a subsequent letter giving you at least six months’ notice of a ‘final date’ by which you have to complain; and

■■ that

‘final date’ is at least three years after the date you received the first letter (and at least six years since you bought the policy); but

■■ you complain only after that ‘final date’.

Even if the firm rejects your complaint as being out of time, you can still refer your complaint to the Ombudsman if you think: ■■ there

are exceptional circumstances,

or ■■ the

time bar was wrongly applied, or

■■ the

time bar was unfair.

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You should do this within six months of the firm sending you a ‘final response’ letter.

Using a complaints management company Some companies offer to help people pursue their complaints with financial services firms and with the Ombudsman. In return, you have to pay them a fee, usually a fixed share of any compensation that is awarded for a successful complaint. Some companies ask for a fee up front, and you may still have to pay a fee if you decide not to use them. So make sure you understand what you may have to pay and when you would have to pay it. A number of these companies focus on mortgage endowment complaints, where the ‘success fee’ you would have to give them can amount to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. This is money that you obviously won’t then be able to put towards paying off your mortgage. And using these companies does not necessarily increase the chances of your complaint succeeding or of you getting compensation.


If your circumstances mean that you may find it helpful to use one of these companies, remember to check the following: ■■ the

costs and benefits of using a complaints company

■■ the

fees and conditions before you sign any contract, and

■■ that the company is regulated by the

Ministry of Justice or is a member of a professional body such as the Law Society because these firms have to meet certain standards – see Useful contacts.

Key points ■■ If

you want to complain, do it now – time may be running out.

■■ You

will not be charged if you complain to the firm that sold you the policy. The Ombudsman service is also free.

■■ If

you get compensation from making a complaint about the sale of your endowment policy, consider using it to reduce the amount you owe on your mortgage.

■■ If

you take a claim to court, there are costs and time limits involved. If you are considering taking any action through the courts, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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When making an endowment mortgage complaint:

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Check

whether you have received a reprojection letter showing that there is a risk that your endowment policy will not repay your mortgage.

Check

whether you have grounds for a complaint and that you have lost out financially as a result.

Check

that you have all the relevant paperwork and any notes you made at the time you bought the policy. You are entitled to copies of the sales paperwork from the firm that sold you the endowment policy.

Check

that you are aware of any time limits that may apply to your complaint.


Your questions answered Question: I can’t remember the name of the firm that sold me the endowment policy – what can I do? Answer: If you bought your endowment policy through an independent financial adviser, your endowment company should have the details of who sold it to you. If you’re not sure the firm still exists, contact the FSA’s helpline or check the FSA Register – see Useful contacts.

Question: I’ve surrendered my policy – can I still complain? Answer: Yes, you may have a valid complaint and be due some redress – as long as you can show that you weren’t properly advised at the time of sale and you have lost out financially.

Question: I never got a warning of a ‘final date’ by which to complain, but have been time-barred by the firm anyway – is that right? Answer: It can be, because the FSA’s rules changed. So, if: ■■ you

received a letter warning of a high risk of a shortfall before 1 June 2001, and

■■ you

received a second or similar warning before 1 December 2003,

then the time limit for you to make a complaint ended at the latest of: ■■ six

years from when you bought your policy, or

■■ three

years from the date you received the first warning of a high risk of a shortfall, or

■■ six

months from the date you received the second or similar warning.

If you made your complaint after the latest of these dates, your complaint is likely to be time-barred, even if you got no warning of a ‘final date’.

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Question: The firm that sold me the endowment policy has stopped trading – who should I contact? Answer: You can contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) – see Useful contacts. The FSCS is a ‘fund of last resort’ for consumers who have a claim against a firm that the FSA regulates, but is unable (or likely to be unable) to pay claims against it, often because it has stopped trading. The FSCS is unlikely to be able to help you if the advice was given before 28 August 1988.

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Question: I have been offered compensation by the firm. If I take my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, could the Ombudsman award more? Answer: Firms and the Financial Ombudsman Service use the FSA’s guidance to decide how much compensation is due. So, if the firm has offered compensation in line with this guidance, it is unlikely that the Ombudsman would require the firm to pay more – unless, for example, the firm has made an error in its calculation, or new factors come to light that require the Ombudsman to use a different method of calculation.


Next steps Step 1

Check whether you have grounds for complaint. Think back to what you were told when you bought the endowment policy and check any paperwork you were given at the time.

Step 2

If you think that you have a valid complaint, complain in writing to the firm that sold you the endowment policy as soon as possible.

Step 3

Keep copies of any letters and notes of telephone calls. Send copies of documents if these are needed, but always hold on to the originals. The firm should respond within eight weeks.

Step 4

If you are unhappy with the response from the firm, take your complaint to the Ombudsman within six months of the date that the firm sent its final response letter. Or you can go to court.

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Jargon buster Some key words and phrases explained. Acknowledgement

FSA register

Where a firm confirms they have received your complaint.

An online register of firms that the FSA regulates to provide financial services in the UK. You can check online or by phone to see whether a firm is on the Register – see Useful contacts.

Adjudication A decision on a dispute by an alternative dispute resolution scheme.

Alternative dispute resolution When a third party, such as the Financial Ombudsman Service, helps you and a firm reach a solution through mediation and, where necessary, issues a decision.

Capital The amount you borrow to help buy your home.

Final response A response sent by an FSA-regulated firm giving its final answer to a complaint and telling the complainant they have six months to go to the Ombudsman if still unhappy.

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Initial response A response sent by an FSA-regulated firm giving its initial answer to a complaint (within eight weeks).

Interest The charge that lenders make when you borrow their money.

Investment performance The way an investment has performed including the return during any given period.

Mediation Helping two parties who are in dispute to reach a settlement that both agree on.


Mortgage

Shortfall

A loan secured on your home. When a loan is ‘secured’ on your home, it means the lender can repossess your home and sell it to get their money back if you don’t keep up your repayments.

The money left owing at the end of the mortgage period (the term).

Redress Actions and/or payments to put the complainant back in the position they would have been in before things went wrong.

Small claims track A less formal court process for smaller amounts and disputes.

Surrender value The cash value of your endowment policy if you surrendered it.

Regulators Official bodies who set and monitor standards of market behaviour.

Repayment mortgage A mortgage in which you repay the loan amount (capital) and interest at the same time.

Return on investment The profit or loss resulting from your investment.

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Useful contacts Money Advice Service For advice based on your own circumstances or to order other guides Money Advice Line: 0300 500 5000 Typetalk: 1800 1 0300 500 5000 (Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service, we may record or monitor calls.)

Other Money Advice Service guides ■■ Borrowing money ■■ Dealing

with your mortgage shortfall

■■ Getting

financial advice

■■ Insurance ■■ Making

a complaint

■■ Problems ■■ Saving

paying your mortgage

and investing

For more titles, call us or go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk/ publications

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On our Money Advice Service website you can find: ■■ comparison tables to help you compare savings accounts, mortgages and pensions ■■ calculators

to help you budget and

save, and ■■ a

health check to help you build up some good financial habits and reach your goals

Go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk/ interactive Call rates to the following organisations may vary – check with your telephone provider. Financial Services Authority (FSA) To check the FSA register or to report misleading promotions 0845 606 1234 Minicom/textphone 0845 730 0104 www.fsa.gov.uk


To check if a claims management company is authorised Ministry of Justice Claims Management Regulation Monitoring and Compliance Unit 57-60 High Street Burton–upon–Trent Staffordshire DE14 1JS 0845 450 6858 01283 233 309 www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/ search.aspx

To find a solicitor Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Solicitors’. The Law Society The Law Society’s Hall 113 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1PL 020 7242 1222 www.lawsociety.org.uk The Law Society of Northern Ireland 96 Victoria Street Belfast BT1 3GN 028 9023 1614 www.lawsoc-ni.org

The Law Society of Scotland 26 Drumsheugh Gardens Edinburgh EH3 7YR 0131 226 7411 www.lawscot.org.uk

Complaints and compensation Financial Ombudsman Service South Quay Plaza 183 Marsh Wall London E14 9SR 0800 0234 567 0300 1239 123 www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) 7th Floor Lloyds Chambers Portsoken Street London E1 8BN 0800 678 1100 020 7741 4100 www.fscs.org.uk Legal Ombudsman (England and Wales) PO Box 15870 Birmingham B30 9EB 0300 500 0333 www.legalombudsman.org.uk

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Scottish Legal Complaints Commission The Stamp Office 10-14 Waterloo Place Edinburgh EH1 3EG

MyLocalAdviser For a mortgage, insurance or investment adviser in your area

0131 528 5111 www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk

The Personal Finance Society For financial advisers in your area

The Law Society of Northern Ireland 96 Victoria Street Belfast BT1 3GN 028 9023 1614 www.lawsoc-ni.org HM Revenue and Customs Your local tax office (look in the phone book under ‘HM Revenue and Customs’) www.hmrc.gov.uk

Financial advisers/ planners Unbiased.co.uk For independent financial advisers in your area www.unbiased.co.uk Institute of Financial Planning For help in planning your finances www.financialplanning.org.uk

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www.mylocaladviser.co.uk

www.findanadviser.org


This guide is part of our If things go wrong series. Other titles in this series include: ■■ Complaints

about banking services

■■ Endowment ■■ Making

mortgage compensation

a complaint

All our guides are available from: Our website moneyadviceservice.org.uk Money Advice Line 0300 500 5000

If you would like this guide in Braille, large print or audio format, please call us on 0300 500 5000 or Typetalk on 1800 1 0300 500 5000. Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service, we may record or monitor calls.

May 2011 Cert no. TT-COC-002168

© Money Advice Service May 2011 Ref: VRSN0016a


Endowment mortgage compensation This factsheet, from the Money Advice Service, tells you: ■■ how

compensation is calculated if you have a valid endowment mortgage complaint, and

■■ answers

some frequently asked questions.

I changed to a repayment mortgage but still have an endowment policy in place. The advising firm has agreed that I was mis-sold the policy but has only calculated compensation up to the date when I changed to a repayment mortgage. Is this correct?

If you get compensation from making a complaint about the sale of your endowment policy, you should consider using it to reduce the amount you owe on your mortgage.

Yes, because the endowment policy was originally taken out to repay your mortgage. Therefore, the compensation is usually calculated up to the point when the endowment policy stops being used to repay your mortgage.

How compensation is calculated

I have been offered compensation. How do I know that it is a fair offer?

The calculation of any compensation involves comparing: ■■ the

mortgage interest and endowment policy premiums you have actually paid, and the current surrender value of your mortgage endowment policy, with

■■ the

mortgage interest and capital repayments you would have paid on an equivalent repayment mortgage, and how much capital you would have paid off the mortgage.

The precise calculation may vary in some cases because of factors like the need for life assurance, or if the policy ran beyond your retirement.

I have already surrendered my endowment policy and changed to a repayment mortgage. How will the firm calculate compensation? The calculation involves comparing: ■■ the

mortgage interest and endowment policy premiums you had actually paid, up to when you surrendered the policy, and the amount received when the policy was surrendered, with mortgage interest and capital repayments you would have paid on an equivalent repayment mortgage, and how much capital you would have paid off your mortgage, up to the point when you changed to a repayment mortgage.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) – the UK’s financial services regulator – has guidance for firms on how to calculate endowment mortgage compensation. So, if the firm has offered compensation in accordance with this guidance, you can assume it is a fair offer. If you have received an offer of compensation, but don’t understand how the firm came to that amount, contact them and ask for a breakdown of the figures.

I have been offered compensation but it doesn’t amount to my shortfall – why is that? The compensation is usually based on what your position would have been now, if you had not been sold the policy but had taken out a repayment mortgage instead. Compensation is not based on what you expected the policy to be worth.

■■ the

The precise calculation may vary if other factors need to be taken into account. See the Mortgage endowments section of our website for more details – moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

We try to ensure that the information and advice in this factsheet is correct at time of print. For up-to-date information and money advice please visit our website – moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

moneyadviceservice.org.uk


I have been offered compensation by the firm. If I take my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, could the Ombudsman award more?

Example of how standard compensation is calculated

Both firms and the Ombudsman use the FSA’s guidance to decide how much compensation is due.

Projected shortfall

£6,500

25-year endowment, duration to date

5 years

So, if the firm has offered compensation in line with this guidance, it is unlikely that the Ombudsman would require the firm to pay more. They may do so, if, for example, the firm has made a mistake in its calculation, or new factors come to light which require the Ombudsman to use a different method of calculation.

Capital sum (the target amount)

Endowment premium per month

£50,000

£75

Established facts Endowment surrender value

£3,200

I switched to a repayment mortgage some time before I complained – could this affect how much I get?

Capital that would have been repaid under equivalent repayment mortgage

£4,200

If you were wrongly advised to buy the original endowment policy you may still be eligible for compensation, but the calculation may be affected by the date of your switching (and also by whether and when you surrendered the endowment policy). The Ombudsman’s website explains what may happen in these circumstances www.financialombudsman.org.uk/publications/ guidance/mtge_endowment_redress.htm.

Cost of converting from endowment mortgage to repayment mortgage

Do I have to pay tax on any compensation I receive?

Surrender value less capital repaid

-£1,000 -£200

Total outgoings to date Equivalent repayment mortgage (capital + interest + decreasing term assurance life cover)

£21,950

Endowment mortgage (endowment premium + interest)

£22,250

Where the compensation simply puts you back in the position you would have been in if you had taken a repayment mortgage instead, then usually you won’t have to pay tax on it. But sometimes, the particular circumstances of the case mean that the compensation calculation includes an amount of additional interest, and then you will have to pay tax on the interest in the normal way.

Difference in outgoings (repayment – endowment)

Loss from surrender value less capital repaid

-£1,000

In certain other cases, for example if the policy is sold, surrendered or varied, the FSA’s guidance to firms is that it may be appropriate for them to pay any personal tax liability that may arise.

Loss from total extra outgoings under endowment mortgage

-£300

Cost of converting to a repayment

-£200

If you are not sure where you stand, or need help with calculating the amount of tax that may be due, you should contact HM Revenue and Customs. For your local tax office look in the phone book under ‘HM Revenue and Customs’ or visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Total loss (and therefore compensation due)

Further information For information about making a complaint, please read our Making a complaint guide. If you think your endowment policy may not pay off the loan at the end of the mortgage period, please read our Dealing with your mortgage shortfall guide. Both are available from our Money Advice Line or website.

Basis of compensation

-£1,500

The complainant has lost out financially because the surrender value of the endowment is less than the capital repaid. Also, to date the total outgoings of the endowment mortgage are higher than the total outgoings would have been if the complainant had taken out an equivalent repayment mortgage. The two losses and the cost of converting to a repayment are added together to determine compensation.

Money Advice Service For advice based on your own circumstances or to order other guides Money Advice Line: 0300 500 5000 Typetalk: 1800 1 0300 500 5000 Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service, we may record or monitor calls.

If you would like this factsheet in Braille, large print or audio format, please call us. June 2011

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Making a complaint


The Money Advice Service is here to help you manage your money better. We provide clear, unbiased advice to help you make informed choices.

We try to ensure that the information and advice in this guide is correct at time of print. For up-to-date information and money advice please visit our website – moneyadviceservice.org.uk.


About this guide This guide is for you if you want to know how to make a complaint about a financial product or service. When you read it you will know ■■ what you can complain about ■■ your ■■ the

rights when you make a complaint, and

different types of independent complaint scheme.

Contents How making a complaint works

32

Key things to think about

34

Different types of independent complaint scheme

41

Your questions answered

46

Next steps

48

Jargon buster

49

Useful contacts

51

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How making a complaint works Financial services firms in the UK have to be authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). You can check if the firm you’re dealing with is regulated by the FSA by checking its Register at www.fsa.gov.uk/fsaregister or calling 0845 606 1234. Regulated firms must have a written complaints process. You should be able to find details in their branches or on their websites. If you can’t, ask the firm for a copy. The FSA sets the rules that firms must follow when dealing with complaints, but it doesn’t investigate individual complaints against firms. If you are unhappy with a financial product or service you have (or are trying to buy), tell the firm straight away. A delay in making your complaint may reduce your rights.

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Firms can often deal with a complaint quickly and easily. But if not, they must acknowledge your complaint promptly and give you details of their complaints process. See the Jargon buster for an explanation of some words you may come across.

When you complain to a firm Firms should investigate your complaint and give you a clear and fair answer within eight weeks. If you are unhappy with their response you may be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which can look at complaints about most types of financial products. Depending on the type of complaint, other independent schemes may be relevant. For example the Pensions Ombudsman deals with problems with occupational pension schemes and complaints about the administration of pensions.


Independent complaint schemes These schemes are independent and free to use. They have the power to settle financial complaints and were set up by law to do this. They will: ■■ look ■■ ask

at the details of your case

Using a complaints management company Think carefully before using a complaints management company to make your complaint for you – you will usually have to pay for this service.

for extra information if necessary,

and ■■ decide

if your complaint is justified and, if it is, order the firm to put matters right.

Going to court Alternatively you can take your case to court. But this is more formal and will not usually be free. So if you decide to do this, it would be a good idea to take independent advice first, for example from your local Citizens Advice Bureau – see Useful contacts.

Key points ■■ Make

your complaint as soon as possible.

■■ Give

the firm a chance to put matters right first.

■■ Remember,

you will usually be able to take your complaint to an independent complaint scheme if you’re unhappy with the firm’s response – this service is free.

There are different organisations to complain to, depending on the type of complaint.

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Key things to think about Do you have a complaint? A problem may not be anyone’s fault. For example you may invest in a product that doesn’t grow as fast as you’d hoped. The fact that investments grow at unpredictable rates, and may fall as well as rise in value, is not usually a valid reason for a complaint unless you weren’t warned about this risk. But cases when a financial product or service may have turned out badly because a firm did something wrong include: ■■ unexpected

or excessive charges

■■ you

losing money because of a firm’s slow administration

■■ a

dispute over who is at fault if money is stolen from an account

■■ incorrect

or misleading information about a product

■■ failure

to warn you adequately about the risks of a product, or to advise properly on its suitability for you

■■ failure

to draw attention to a particularly strict condition in the contract

■■ failure

to carry out your instructions,

and ■■ you

not being given adequate notice about changes to a contract.

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How to make an effective complaint You can complain in person, by phone or in writing. By phone or in person – make sure you make brief notes of the conversation as well as noting the name of the person you speak to and the date and time you speak to them. Keep the notes in a safe place – they are a record of your complaint. You will probably also need to send a follow-up letter. By letter or email – it is usually best to make your complaint in writing to start with if you can, especially for more complex complaints. Try to make it clear and simple, and include essential information. This helps the firm understand the problem. Use the following steps to help you. ■■ Put

‘Complaint’ at the top of your letter or email.

■■ If

sending a letter, type it if possible, or write clearly in black or blue ink.

■■ Include

any reference numbers.

■■ State

your case clearly and include relevant dates.

■■ Put

down the facts in a sensible order.


■■ Be

firm but remain polite.

■■ Every

time you write or email, keep a copy for reference.

■■ If

sending a letter, use recorded delivery to make sure it gets there.

How financial services firms should respond According to FSA rules, the firm should investigate your complaint and then, within eight weeks, send you: initial answer, which will ask you to tell the firm if you’re still not satisfied

Getting help If you need help working out whether you have a complaint, or you need help with making your complaint, our Money Advisers may be able to help. You will not be charged for this service. If you need help with a pensions-related complaint, the Pensions Advisory Service may be able to help. You will not be charged for this service – see Useful contacts.

■■ an

Complaints or claims management companies

■■ a

These companies offer to help you make your complaint or claim to a firm, the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in return for payment.

final response, which will tell you that this is the firm’s last answer and that you have six months to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you’re still not satisfied, or

■■ a

response that explains that despite eight weeks having passed, the firm cannot give you an answer yet and that if you are unhappy with this delay, you can now take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

You don’t have to use this type of help. Regulated firms must handle your complaint clearly and fairly (regardless of whether it comes from you or a complaints management company), and the Financial Ombudsman Service and the FSCS are straightforward to use. The firm you’re complaining to, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the FSCS will not charge you for making a complaint.

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But if you feel it might be helpful to use one of these companies, remember to check: ■■ the

costs, possible benefits and any conditions before you sign any contract, and

■■ that the company is regulated by the

Ministry of Justice or is a member of a professional body (the Law Society for example), because regulated firms have to meet certain standards – see Useful contacts.

Other types of complaints The government’s Directgov website has information on who to contact in various situations (for England and Wales) – see www.direct.gov.uk. Here are some of the main types of complaint.

Unfair contract terms If your complaint is about a term in a consumer contract, then as well as complaining to the firm you may also want to bring it to the attention of the FSA or the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Complaints about unfair terms in consumer contracts help them in their work to protect consumers.

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The FSA deals with contract terms that relate to: ■■ mortgages ■■ insurance ■■ bank,

building society and credit union accounts

■■ life

assurance

■■ pensions,

and

■■ investments.

See www.fsa.gov.uk/unfaircontracts for more information. The OFT deals with contract terms that relate to: ■■ personal ■■ hire

loans

purchase

■■ credit

cards, and

■■ other

credit products.

See www.oft.gov.uk for more information. Write to the relevant organisation enclosing a copy of the contract (sometimes called the ‘terms and conditions’) with an explanation of which terms you think are unfair and why. Also enclose copies of any correspondence you have already had with the firm about these terms.


The FSA or OFT will look at the contract and assess whether it thinks the terms you referred to are likely to be considered unfair. It will follow up your concerns and take action if necessary. For legal reasons it may not be able to tell you what action it has taken as a direct result of your concerns. The FSA’s website has some examples of terms it has found unfair – see www.fsa.gov.uk/unfaircontracts. Neither the OFT nor the FSA has the power to compensate you if, for example, you’ve lost money because of an unfair contract term. Neither will they become involved in any individual dispute you may have with the firm. You must complain to the firm directly. If you are not satisfied with how the firm handles your complaint, you can take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Examples of possible unfair terms include those that:

■■ bind

you to hidden terms

■■ exclude

or limit your legal rights unfairly, or

■■ charge

you a disproportionately large sum if you don’t fulfil any of your obligations under the contract.

Remember, though, that a term won’t necessarily be unfair just because it looks like the examples above – that will depend on the precise details of the contract as a whole. Also, terms in consumer contracts that set out the price or the product or service being supplied are ‘core terms’, and cannot be assessed for fairness unless the term is unclear. You can report as unfair a term in a contract that falls within the FSA’s remit (see above). To do this, call 0845 606 1234, complete the online form at www.fsa.gov.uk/uct or send a copy of the contract containing the unfair term to the ‘Unfair Contract Terms Team‘ at the FSA – see Useful contacts.

■■ allow

the firm to change the terms of the contract without telling you why or without giving you notice as soon as possible so you can leave the contract immediately

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Financial advertising When promoting financial products or services, firms must be fair, clear, and not mislead you.

If you’re not able to send a copy of the promotion, give as much detail as you can. Then the FSA can identify the promotion and investigate your report.

Promotions can be:

The FSA will need to know:

■■ adverts

in the media (such as radio, press or television)

■■ direct

mail sent to your home

■■ leaflets ■■ letters ■■ shop ■■ text

or posters

to customers

window advertising

messages

■■ teletext ■■ emails,

or

■■ websites.

The FSA tries to make sure that regulated firms that issue financial promotions meet its standards. You can help by reporting adverts to it relating to most financial products and services. To report a misleading promotion, call 0845 606 1234, complete the online form at www.fsa.gov.uk/fp or send a copy of the promotion (writing ‘Financial Promotion‘ at the top of your covering letter) – see Useful contacts.

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■■ the

name of the firm

■■ the

product being promoted

■■ what

you feel is misleading

■■ where

you saw the promotion (including a page number when relevant)

■■ when

you saw the promotion, and

■■ the

type of promotion (for example a newspaper advertisement, directoffer pack, in-branch promotion or internet site).

The FSA will follow up your complaint and take action if it feels it should, although for legal reasons it cannot tell you what actions it has taken as a direct result of your complaint. Contact the OFT if your complaint is about credit, store or charge cards, personal loans, overdrafts, loan consolidation services and some second-charge mortgages. You can also send complaints about credit cards or loan adverts to your local Trading Standards Office – see Useful contacts.


If you think you’ve been misled by an advert and lost money because of it, complain directly to the firm that provided the information. If you’re unhappy with the way the firm handles your complaint, you can take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. If you have a complaint about the non-financial content of an advert, contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – see Useful contacts.

State benefits The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) manages most benefits through Jobcentre Plus offices. If you think a decision about your benefits is wrong, you can ask the office that made the decision to explain it. You can also ask to get the decision reconsidered and, if you’re still unhappy, you can appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal – see Useful contacts.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit These benefits are handled by your local council, so you’d normally contact your local council office to question the decision and follow their appeals procedure.

Child Benefit If you think something is wrong with your Child Benefit, contact the Child Benefit Office. If you complain in writing, write ‘Complaint’ at the top and include your contact details, your National Insurance number and the last reference number the Child Benefit Office used when contacting you. It should normally contact you within 15 working days. If you’re unhappy with its response, it will give you details of what to do next – see Useful contacts.

Tax credits If you are unhappy with a tax credit decision, contact the Tax Credit Office, or you can visit any HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Enquiry Centre – see Useful contacts. If you complain by letter, write ‘Complaint’ at the top of it and send it to the Complaint’s Manager. Include your contact details and your National Insurance number. It will normally contact you within 15 working days. If you’re unhappy with its response, it will give you details of what to do next.

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Your tax code If your tax code is wrong, you may be paying more or less tax than you should be, so contact your Tax Office straight away so it can correct it – see Useful contacts.

State Pension and Pension Credit The Pension Service is responsible for the basic State Pension, the additional State Pension and Pension Credit. You can contact your pension centre by phone, online form or letter if you have an enquiry or you are unhappy with the service – see Useful contacts.

Work pension If you have a question about your work pension, your employer can put you in touch with the pension scheme administrators. If you’re already receiving your pension, speak to the pension scheme administrators or contact the Pensions Advisory Service – see Useful contacts.

Goods and services You have legal rights when you buy goods or services, and there are guidelines on how to complain if things go wrong – see www.direct.gov.uk/consumer. 40

Key points ■■ Contact

the firm or organisation responsible as soon as you realise something’s gone wrong.

■■ State

your complaint clearly with all relevant details.

■■ Take

your case further if you’re not satisfied with the firm’s response – the firm will give you details of what to do.

■■ Make

sure you understand the costs you’ll have to pay if you use a complaints management company.


Different types of independent complaint scheme These schemes have been set up to resolve disputes between you and a financial services firm.

Financial Ombudsman Service

Generally, if it upholds (agrees with) your complaint, it will try to put you in the position you’d be in if things hadn’t gone wrong. This might include telling the firm to do something, such as to pay compensation.

The Financial Ombudsman Service can deal with most types of financial complaint, though there are some types of dispute it can’t deal with, for example the mishandling of occupational pension schemes.

The firm has to cooperate with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is independent of the FSA. The FSA is the regulator and its role is to set standards and monitor market behaviour. It can’t intervene in the handling and outcome of individual cases.

You can choose whether or not to accept the Financial Ombudsman Service decision. If you accept the decision, it is binding on both you and the firm. If you don’t accept it, you can take your case to court.

How the scheme works

What the scheme costs

If you haven’t been able to sort out a problem with a financial services firm, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help. It will: ■■ look

at your side and the firm’s side of the story

■■ weigh ■■ tell

up the facts, and

When making its decision, the Financial Ombudsman Service will consider what is fair and reasonable and will take into account the law, industry rules and good practice.

The scheme is free to consumers. You shouldn’t need to use a solicitor or other complaints handler, but if you choose to, you will have to pay the legal or other costs – you can’t normally claim them back through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

you and the firm what it thinks.

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How to contact the scheme The Financial Ombudsman Service has a dedicated consumer helpline that you can call for advice or to get a complaints form. You can also send an email, or you can print off or fill out a form on its website. For more information see Useful contacts.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) If you can’t contact the firm you want to complain to because it has gone out of business (called ‘being in default’), the FSCS may be able to help you The FSCS is the UK’s fund of last resort for customers of UK-regulated financial services firms. This means that if a UK financial services firm has stopped trading and can’t (or is likely to be unable to) pay claims against it, you may be able to get compensation through the FSCS. It does not charge individual consumers for using its service. You should first try to complain directly to the firm or its liquidators, as it may still be able to meet your claim. You can check the FSA Register online at www.fsa.gov.uk/fsaregister or call 0845 606 1234 for the firm’s last-known contact details. 42

If the firm is no longer regulated, Companies House may have more up-to-date information – see Useful contacts. If you still can’t trace them, the FSCS has a list of firms that are in default on its website or you can ring its helpline – see Useful contacts. There are limits to the protection the FSCS gives you. For more information about compensation limits, look on the FSCS website – see Useful contacts.

The Pensions Advisory Service and the Pensions Ombudsman The Pensions Advisory Service and the Pensions Ombudsman cover problems with the way occupational and personal pension schemes are run. They are independent of each other and both services are free to consumers. They can be used by anyone who has rights (or believes they may have rights) under a pension arrangement. This includes people: ■■ currently

paying contributions

■■ with

a deferred pension from previous employment

■■ receiving ■■ who

a paid pension, or

are the dependant of someone in any of these groups.


They cannot normally help if you are just disappointed with the investment performance of your pension fund. And if your complaint is about the sale of a pension, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service. You should complain first in writing to the firm or body you consider to be at fault. You may have to use its formal internal dispute resolution procedure. If you’re still unsatisfied, contact the Pensions Advisory Service, who can give help and advice. This can be enough to clear up misunderstandings and sort out complaints. If necessary, it will write to the pension scheme on your behalf to try to resolve matters. If you’re not happy with the outcome, or if the Pensions Advisory Service thinks it is beneficial, you can then take your complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman. The Pensions Ombudsman investigates cases and makes a decision that is binding on you and the other parties. You only have the option of going to court to appeal on a point of law or to enforce the decision if the Pensions Ombudsman’s directions are not carried out.

If one of the parties is the scheme trustees, then the Pensions Ombudsman can only investigate after you have used the scheme’s internal dispute resolution process. This is a statutory requirement. The Pensions Advisory Service can give you guidance on how to do this.

Taking your complaint to court If you do not accept a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service or have not used an independent complaints scheme at all, you can go to court if you wish. You can’t usually take your complaint to court if you have already been through an arbitration scheme or the Pensions Ombudsman. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you normally bring your case in the county court. In Scotland, you go to the sheriff court.

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Your case can usually be dealt with through the ‘small claims track’ or ‘small claims court’, if the amount you are claiming is no more than:

Contact your local county or sheriff court for more information. The Citizens Advice website also has information on the small claims system – see Useful contacts.

■■ £5,000

in England and Wales

■■ £3,000

in Scotland, or

Paying for a legal action

■■ £2,000

in Northern Ireland.

You normally pay a fee to use the court, depending on the size of your claim. If you feel you need a solicitor, you should choose one who has experience in the appropriate area of law. You may be able to get legal aid if you can’t afford to pay the fee or a solicitor.

The small claims track or court is less formal than other court procedures and you do not need a solicitor or barrister. You pay a fee to use the court (the amount varies with the size of your claim). You may not need to pay the fee if you are getting certain State benefits or can show that paying a fee would cause you financial hardship. If your complaint is not suitable for the small claims track or court, going to court should generally be a last resort because: ■■ it

can be a long time before your case comes to court and reaches settlement, especially if the dispute is complicated

■■ you

may need to employ a solicitor and even a barrister, which may be expensive, and

■■ if

you lose the case, you may face a large bill for the firm’s legal costs as well as your own.

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Legal aid If you are receiving certain State benefits or your earnings are low, you may be able to get free advice and free solicitors’ letters under the Legal Aid Advice and Assistance Scheme. Legal Aid may also help with your expenses if you have to go to court, but only if your income, savings and other property are below certain limits and you are judged to have a good case. If you win your case, you must normally repay some or all of the Legal Aid you received. For guidance on getting Legal Aid, talk to your solicitor, or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or legal advice centre – see Useful contacts.


No-win, no-fee arrangements

Using a mediation service

Under a no-win, no-fee arrangement, a solicitor will take your case on the understanding that if you lose the case, they will not get paid. But it is important to remember that there is more to the costs of a legal case than just solicitor’s fees. And if you lose your case, you may still have to pay:

Mediation is another way of resolving civil or family disputes. It is an alternative to going to court and can be cheaper, quicker and less stressful. It is a voluntary process where a neutral third party helps both sides to agree on the outcome of their dispute.

■■ your

opponent’s legal costs, and

■■ both

your and your opponent’s expenses or charges (such as fees for expert witnesses if they are needed).

You may want to consider buying legal expenses insurance to cover these payments in case you lose, or the solicitor may ask you to take this out to cover their losses. For more information on legal expenses insurance, see the Your money section of our website at moneyadviceservice.org.uk. If you win your case, you must pay your solicitor’s fees as well as your expenses and charges. But you should be able to get these costs (or most of them) paid by your opponent.

Key points ■■ The

Financial Ombudsman Service is easy to use. It is independent, impartial and free to consumers.

■■ If

you have a complaint about the mishandling of your pension scheme, contact the Pensions Advisory Service or the Pensions Ombudsman.

■■ If

you take your case to court bear in mind that, if the Financial Ombudsman Service has already decided your complaint is unjustified, a judge might take the same view.

Your solicitor may also charge a ‘success fee’. This is meant to compensate them for the risk of not being paid if you lose. The amount of this fee depends on the type of case and your chances of winning. moneyadviceservice.org.uk 45


Your questions answered Question: If the Financial Ombudsman Service upholds my complaint and orders a firm to pay me money, how much is this likely to be?

Question: How much compensation can I expect if I have a complaint against a firm that has gone out of business?

Answer:

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) can pay compensation only for financial loss. There are limits to the protection the FSCS gives you. The amount of compensation you get will depend on the type of financial product you have. To find out more, contact them or visit their website – see Useful contacts.

The Financial Ombudsman Service aims to put people in the position they would have been in if things hadn’t gone wrong. Whether or not you get financial redress will depend on the nature of your complaint. But if you’ve lost out financially, the Financial Ombudsman Service can currently make an award of up to £100,000, though the majority of awards are for much lower amounts. This limit may be increased in 2012 so check their website later in the year – see Useful contacts.

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Answer:


Question: Are there time limits for taking a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

Question: I think I have a complaint, but I’m not sure how to make it. Who can I go to for help?

Answer:

Answer:

Yes. You have six months from the date of the firm’s final response to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

You can contact our Money Advisers, an independent advice centre, a legal advice centre or the FSA’s Consumer helpline (if a financial services complaint) for help. These services are all free – see Useful contacts.

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Next steps Step 1

Check whether you have grounds for complaint. Read the paperwork to make sure you understand how your financial product or benefit works.

Step 2

Complain as soon as possible – there are usually time limits. Make sure you complain to the right organisation – see Key things to think about on page 4.

Step 3

State your case clearly, remembering to include any relevant dates. Keep copies of any letters/emails and notes of telephone calls. Send copies of documents if these are needed, but always hold onto the originals.

Step 4

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If you are unhappy with the response from the firm, take your complaint further. The organisation will give you details of what to do next.


Jargon buster Some key words and phrases explained. Acknowledgement

Legal Aid

Where a firm confirms receipt of your complaint.

A fund of government money to help people who can’t afford to pay for a legal case themselves. Also known as Community Legal Service Fund.

Adjudication A decision on a dispute by an alternative dispute resolution scheme.

Legal expenses insurance

Alternative dispute resolution

Insurance to protect against legal costs that result from going to court. Sometimes called ‘After the event’ insurance.

What Ombudsmen schemes do, through mediation and, where necessary, by issuing a decision.

Final response A response sent by an FSA-regulated firm giving its final answer to a complaint and telling the complainant they have six months in which they can go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if still unhappy.

Initial response A response sent by an FSA-regulated firm giving its initial answer to a complaint (within eight weeks).

Mediation Helping two parties who are in dispute to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.

No-win, no-fee arrangement A solicitor will take on a case on the understanding that if the claimant loses the case, they will not get paid. However, there may be other costs to pay that aren’t solicitor’s fees.

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Redress

Time bar

Actions, payments, or both to put the complainant back in the position they would have been in had things not gone wrong.

A firm can generally time bar your complaint if you have not raised it within a certain amount of time, often three or six years from when you realised something was wrong.

Regulators Official bodies that set and monitor standards of market behaviour.

Small claims court or track A less formal court process for smaller sums and disputes (up to £5,000 in England and Wales, £3,000 in Scotland, and £2,000 in Northern Ireland).

Success fee The amount that a solicitor will add to a bill if they win a claim. You may be able to get a large part of this paid by the losing party.

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Time limit The amount of time you have from the date of an FSA-regulated firm’s final response letter to take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which is six months.


Useful contacts Money Advice Service For advice based on your own circumstances or to order other guides Money Advice Line: 0300 500 5000 Typetalk: 1800 1 0300 500 5000 Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service, we may record or monitor calls.

Other Money Advice Service guides ■■ Complaints about banking services ■■ Getting

financial advice

tables to compare mortgages, pensions and savings accounts.

■■ comparison

Go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk/ interactive Call rates to the following organisations may vary – check with your telephone provider. Financial Services Authority (FSA) To check the FSA Register 0845 606 1234 Minicom/textphone: 0845 730 0104 www.fsa.gov.uk/fsaregister

■■ Insurance ■■ Making ■■ Your

the most of your money

bank account

For more titles, call us or go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk/ publications On the Money Advice Service website you can find: ■■ a health check to help you build up some good financial habits and reach your goals ■■ a

budget planner to help you work out if you have enough money coming in to cover your bills, and

To report misleading financial promotions Financial Services Authority (FSA) The Financial Promotions Team 25 The North Colonnade Canary Wharf London E14 5HS 0845 606 1234 Minicom/textphone: 0845 730 0104 www.fsa.gov.uk/fp E: finprom1@fsa.gov.uk

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To report unfair contract terms

Child Benefit Office PO Box 1 Newcastle upon Tyne NE88 1AA

Financial Services Authority (FSA) Unfair Contract Terms Team 25 The North Colonnade Canary Wharf London E14 5HS

0845 302 1444 Textphone: 0845 302 1474 www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/ question.htm

0845 606 1234 Minicom/textphone: 0845 730 0104 www.fsa.gov.uk/uct E: unfair.terms@fsa.gov.uk

Tax Credit Office PO Box 145 Preston PR1 0SB

For other types of complaint Advertising Standards Authority Mid City Place 71 High Holborn London WC1V 6QT 020 7492 2222 Online complaints form – www.asa.org.uk/complaintform Department for Work and Pensions To appeal against a State benefits decision If you think our decision is wrong – www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/gl24dwp.pdf

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0845 300 3900 HMRC Enquiry Centre To find your local centre www.hmrc.gov.uk/enq/main.htm The Pension Service 08456 060 265 Textphone: 0800 731 7339 To find your nearest office – www.direct.gov.uk/pensioncentre

To find your local Citizens Advice Bureau Look in the phone book under ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ or go to www.adviceguide.org.uk


Independent complaint schemes

The Pensions Ombudsman 11 Belgrave Road London SW1V 1RB

Financial Ombudsman Service South Quay Plaza 183 Marsh Wall London E14 9SR

020 7630 2200 www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk E: enquiries@pensionsombudsman.org.uk

0800 0234 567 or 0300 123 9123 www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk E: complaint.info@financialombudsman.org.uk

To find a solicitor

Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) 7th Floor Lloyds Chambers Portsoken Street London E1 8BN

The Law Society (England & Wales) The Law Society’s Hall 113 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1PL

0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100 www.fscs.org.uk E: enquiries@fscs.org.uk The Pensions Advisory Service 11 Belgrave Road London SW1V 1RB 0845 601 2923 www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk E: enquiries@ pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Solicitors’.

020 7242 1222 www.lawsociety.org.uk The Law Society of Northern Ireland 96 Victoria Street Belfast BT1 3GN 028 9023 1614 www.lawsoc-ni.org The Law Society of Scotland 26 Drumsheugh Gardens Edinburgh EH3 7YR 0131 226 7411 www.lawscot.org.uk

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To find your local county court or sheriff court Look in the phone book under ‘Courts’.

To find a local legal advice centre Community Legal Advice 0845 345 4345 Contact your local council office or go to www.legalservices.gov.uk/public/ community_legal_advice.asp

Other organisations that can help Directgov To find out about your legal rights when you buy goods or services. www.direct.gov.uk/consumer Companies House Crown Way Maindy Cardiff CF14 3UZ 0303 1234 500 www.companieshouse.gov.uk

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Ministry of Justice Claims Management Regulation Monitoring and Compliance Unit 57-60 High Street Burton-upon-Trent Staffordshire DE14 1JS 0845 450 6858 01283 233 309 www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/ search.aspx The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) To report an unfair contract term or misleading promotion for personal loans, hire purchase, credit cards or other credit products. Enquiries Unit Fleetbank House 2-6 Salisbury Square London EC4Y 8JX www.oft.gov.uk Trading Standards To report misleading promotions about personal loans, hire purchase, credit cards or other credit products. Look in the phone book under ‘Trading Standards’ or go to www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ advice/index.cfm


This guide is part of our if things go wrong series. Other titles in this series include: ■■ Complaints

about banking services

■■ Endowment

mortgage complaints

■■ Endowment

mortgage compensation

All our guides are available from: Our website moneyadviceservice.org.uk Money Advice Line 0300 500 5000

If you would like this guide in Braille, large print or audio format, please call us on 0300 500 5000 or Typetalk on 1800 1 0300 500 5000. Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service, we may record or monitor calls.

June 2011 Cert no. TT-COC-002168

© Money Advice Service June 2011 Ref: VRSN0011b

If Things Go Wrong  

A complete guide by Money Advice Service.