Never has the future seemed so uncertain, what with Brexit and the result of the US Presidential elections. It may be even more difficult to predict how the world’s financial markets will react to these events and so we all put our trust in the people we think can tell us what the future holds; a financial adviser.
However, things can, and do go wrong. The advice that you receive may not be correct and you might lose money as a direct result.
This doesn’t always have to mean a trip to court straight away. You should always first of all ask what the formal complaints procedure is and follow it. Not only might you be able to see some helpful documents from your adviser which might help you with any case against them but as they are not on their guard they might let something slip that will also help you later. It is important to surround yourself with the right team at an early stage. You should also instruct a new adviser who will be happy to help you to properly understand your losses and can help in any action you take. They will also be able to help you to find ways of minimising your losses, which is something the Court expects you to do. Involving a solicitor who specialises in this type of work will help you to prepare your complaint as this might be a document that is seen by a judge one day.
Depending on the value of your losses you could then involve the Financial Ombudsman Service who will review your complaint for free. You will need to let them have details of what has gone wrong in writing and the financial adviser will have the chance to explain themselves. Your ‘team’ can help you again here. The process is flexible and in certain cases there might be a meeting or mediation to try to get to the bottom of what went wrong. At the end of it, the Ombudsman will make a decision which you and the adviser will have an opportunity of commenting on it before it is made final. The most the Ombudsman can award is £150,000 but if he decides you have lost more than that they can recommend that the adviser pays you more. This is not binding on them though.
You then have a choice of whether to accept the decision, in which case it is binding and you will not be able to get any more money through the court or to reject it and sue your adviser. Your current adviser will be invaluable in helping you here. Even if you reject the Ombudsman’s award, the time you have spent in the process will not be wasted. Although their findings will not be binding on a court they are convincing and this can help you to get an early settlement.
So, if you get the right advisers behind you this can be a helpful and cost effective way to test the strength of your claim and see how much of your losses you might be able to get back. It doesn’t prevent you from then suing your former adviser if you choose not to accept the award.
So, the old saying is right; there is more than one way to skin a cat.