Tag Archives: vulnerable consumers

SIFA Slams St James’s Place

6 Apr

St James’s Place (SJP) is a well respected Insurance and Investment Company who still work solely through a self-employed sales force. The down side is they are not independent but have many proficient sales people who will offer the best of the product range they can sell.

The outrage is from the Solicitor IFA trade body Sifa, who have accused St James’s Place of making “distinctly misleading” claims and it raises concerns where an institution who gives financial advice sees it to be acceptable to allow dishonest business practices. SJP has written out to financial advisers in an attempt top attract them to join St James’s Place, while suggesting that they can continue to receive professional introductions through solicitors.

This is not the case as solicitors are governed by a strict code of practice to refer only suitably qualified independent financial advisers and this can’t be a sales person from SJP. SJP’s sales people are called Partners and Senior Partners depending their success and longevity in selling their products.

SIFA has reported SJP (St James’s Place) to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The SRA’s code of conduct states solicitors can only refer clients who need investment advice to “independent intermediaries”. It defines an independent intermediary as an IFA who can advise on investment products from across the whole of the market and offers a fee option.

Payday Loan Companies – Why This is So Wrong

7 Mar

I have been warning people of the unacceptable business practices currently being allowed as I believe this takes advantage of people in financial fifficulty. I am sure you will have seen one of the many television adverts offering loans in minutes at rediculous rates of interest, say 2763% APR. The government needs to improve regulation in the debt and credit industries to protect consumers.

A cross-party MP committee has attacked poorly regulated payday loan and debt management companies for causing people unmanageable debt problems. The news comes as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launches an investigation into these practices. The Committee is also asking the government to act swiftly should the OFT investigation reveals any evidence of non-compliance within the market. The idea being if self-regulation cannot deliver enough protection the government must intervene with statutory regulation.

I believe the practice to borrow money this week and pay back next week causes spiralling debt, which quickly becomes un affordable. If there isn’t sufficient income to pay bills, it is pretty clear that borrowing from Peter to pay Paul leads to more borrowing next week? Next week comes and you borrow more to payback both the loan and the interest running up larger and larger debts.

Research by Consumer Focus showed that customers had on average over three loans, while insolvency experts R3 claimed that a third of people who take out a payday loan have to get another one because they can’t afford to pay it off.

Please make comments as this practice is wrong.

Financial Ombudsman Service Top Ten Business Groups Complaints List

28 Feb

Someitmes, as the adviser, you forget the quality of service offered in the “advice” world and so it is healthy to review the stats just to remind oneself.

I am a financial adviser (IFA) who has specialised in Investment & Tax Planning. I spend my working life trying to do the best for my clients. It is clear to me that each and every one who I advise, support and guide have placed their trust, wealth and financial well-being in my hands. I will always do my very best fopr them, wherever I can.

In comparison, the volume and type of complaints clearly identify that there are moany out there whos’ role is simply to sell whatever they can and without due care and consideration for the end user – there clients.

I think the figures speak for themselves.

The Financial Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about financial products, sales and associated issues. The majority of these complaints were upheld i.e. 93% against RBS, 87% against Lloyds TSB, 84% against Barclays Bank, 80% against HSBC, and 55% against Santander.

Payment Protection Insurance claims – 11% upheld against Capital One, 98% against Black Horse, 99% against Lloyds TSB, and 87% against HSBC.

 

Lloyds takes back £2m of bonuses paid to executives (Article in BBC Business News on 20.02.2012)

20 Feb
Lloyds Banking Group is taking back bonuses worth £2m from 10 executives, including the former chief executive Eric Daniels, the BBC has learned.

Four of those affected were board directors.

Mr Daniels is expected to lose between 40% and 50% of a £1.45m bonus, or between £600,000 and £700,000.

BBC business editor Robert Peston says they are being penalised over their role in the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI).

This involved the sale of insurance that, in theory, covered repayments if borrowers were unable to continue repayments through illness or unemployment, but in many cases those taking out the policies would not have been eligible to claim on them.

Our business editor says three other board directors are expected to see about £250,000 of their bonus taken from them.

About six other executives, below board level, would lose around £100,000 each.

This is the first time a British bank has taken back bonuses from executives, following a financial performance that was worse than expected.

“The clawback of bonuses is important for its deterrent effect”

The return of some of the bonuses, which were demanded by regulators after the banking crisis of 2008, are being made after pressure from politicians and the Financial Services Authority.

Results

Lloyds Banking Group is the UK’s biggest lender and owns the Halifax, the Bank of Scotland and the Cheltenham and Gloucester.

It has been forced to set aside £3.2bn to cover compensation for those customers who were mis-sold PPI.

The bank will publish its results this Friday and is expected to announce a loss of about £3.5bn.

The bank has not yet formally announced its plans for the return of some of the bonus money.

Its current chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said in January he would not take an annual bonus for 2011.

Our business editor says the move may have a deterrent effect in future, making bankers more likely to consider the consequences when they launch new products or do assorted deals.

FSA Shuts Down Sale and Rent-Back Market – by Natalie Thomas

3 Feb

3 February 2012 10:43 am | By Natalie Thomas

 

The FSA has today published a report that shows most sale-and-rent-back transactions were either unaffordable or unsuitable and never should have been sold.

Following a review of all regulated rent-back firms, the FSA has referred one firm to its enforcement division while others have either stopped taking on new business or cancelled their permissions.

 

The FSA says effectively, this means the entire rent-back market is temporarily shut.

Of the 22 firms reviewed, only nine had been active since the FSA began regulating rent-back.

Of this nine, five firms have now stopped doing rent-back business, three have kept their regulatory permissions but decided not to use them for the foreseeable future, five have agreed to undertake past business reviews (which may result in consumer redress), and one will only purchase second-hand SRB contracts from other firms.

The FSA says if customers with existing SRB agreements have concerns about their agreement they should in the first instance contact their SRB provider, or seek professional advice.

The FSA had previously identified and published areas of concern regarding financial promotions targeting vulnerable consumers. It had also received intelligence from a lender alleging that one firm was arranging rent-back transactions as buy-to-let mortgages where the properties were purchased by the firm at below market value then inflating purchase prices to defraud the lender.

Additionally, a study by consumer group Which? in February 2011 found advice to rent-back customers to be ‘woefully inadequate’.

In March 2011, the FSA commenced a review of the sales practices of the 22 authorised SRB firms. The most common failings identified by the FSA were:

  • SRB firms did not correctly assess appropriateness and affordability, and customers were not given enough time to consider the agreement;
  • Disclosure of the key facts of an SRB agreement did not follow the correct order, was insufficient and not given at the right time;
  • agreements contained incorrect information and did not meet the FSA’s requirements for tenancy agreements;
  • Sales processes were inadequate and did not allow firms to gather enough information to assess appropriateness;
  • Financial promotions breached FSA rules; and
  • Training and competence, compliance monitoring, and record keeping were all inadequate.

The FSA will now focus on working with firms conducting past business reviews to ensure any affected customers are treated fairly.

FSA head of mortgage and general insurance supervision Nausicaa Delfas says: “Rent-back is often the last resort for struggling homeowners so we expected to see firms treating their customers much better than this report suggests.

“The resulting temporary closure of this market could have been avoided if sale and rent back firms had taken the time to fully understand their regulatory responsibilities and customers’ needs. It seems most were more focussed on their own commercial success rather than the welfare of the customers, with one firm even resorting to fraud.

“This is an example of the type of action that the FSA, and in future the FCA, will increasingly be taking to protect consumers.”

The FSA was given regulatory oversight of SRB by HM Treasury in June 2009 and implemented an interim regime a month later. This was replaced by a full regime in June 2010