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Now I have all of the old paperwork out, I have found a forgotten clerical medical pension that I have that seems a bit dodgy to me. Brief history of the policy; Originally taken out with United friendly in the 80's, who were then bought out or merged at a later date with Royal London. This is /was a mutual with profits. In 2007 I was contacted by an independent financial advisor who said he would take a look at the pension as I was considering transferring the pension to an occupational scheme. The advisor advised me to transfer the existing funds (admittedly not much at the time) into a clerical medical personal pension plan as it would be 'a better option' and 'pay a better amount in the long term' Firstly, CM have never contacted me for a review from 2007 to 2015 (considering the volatility of pensions this seems dodgy) Secondly, as far as I can make out the transfer fee was £4k Two things stand out in the small print on the initial review documents; Assumed growth rates: "Compared with your current plan, the new Clerical Medical plan would reduce your fund by 17.8% Minimum transfer accepted You do not have a particularly large transfer value to invest for your retirement, and so you need a plan which will accept a low minimum stand alone single premium Unfortunately, this plan has one of the highest on the market Policy Fee You should choose a plan with a competitive policy fee Unfortunately this monthly policy fee for this plan is above average compared to other plans on the market. One off installation fee You should choose a plan that has a competitive stand alone administration fee, if at all Unfortunately, one of the highest fees applies to this plan. I went with his advice at the time, and forgot about the pension as I later joined the company scheme anyway, and just never paid anything else into the private one, but over the last couple of weeks I have been tracing things including this and after reading the small print it seems like I was really stiffed on this policy. Luckily I still have all of the paperwork for this one, including 'independent review paperwork' with the name of the advisor should I have any grounds to take this further. Why would someone strongly advise a policy that costs 4K, and loses 17.8% ? I wasn't aware that pension policies charge a monthly fee either (£40 per annum), or installation fee (£100). Thoughts anyone ? Just to add to that, if you read the other thread http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?444060-Tibbett-and-Britten-group-workplace-pensionpost I made about the Tibbett & Britten pension scheme, this is the scheme which I was considering transferring the funds to, and it was a final salary scheme, so I guess it was a foolish thing to do by not transferring into a company scheme at the time, but the way things turned out the final salary scheme was wound up in 2012, so in hindsight a stupid decision, and bad advice at the time has actually turned out to be a decision that has worked out I guess. At the point of sale though it was stupid advice, and a stupid move for me to believe that advice.
PENSION DISPUTE WITH CLERICAL MEDICAL (PART OF THE LLOYDS TSB GROUP) AND THE HANDLING OF THE COMPLAINT BY THE FOS AND FCA In 1993 I transferred my final salary scheme fund to a pension fund with Clerical Medical (CM), a Lloyds affiliate, under a Section 32 Buyout Plan. I had been provided with a ‘Product Guide’ by CM with a BSI kitemark on the cover which stated- ‘CLARITY APPROVED BY PLAIN ENGLISH CAMPAIGN’. The relevant clause in the ‘Product Guide’ stated:- ‘If the transfer payment comes from a scheme which was contracted out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) where a ‘Guaranteed Minimum Pension’ (GMP) was to be provided, then you will have to invest enough money in the With-Profits Fund for us to provide this guarantee. However, once you have provided for the GMP, you can invest the remaining amount in our Account, in the funds of your choice.’ On that basis I signed a Contract which stated:- ‘I request that any amount not required to provide GMP and any other fixed benefits is applied to the investment funds as shown below:-’ Clerical Medical’s acceptance of the fund was under a Section 32 Buyout Plan, which according to subsequent legal advice I received, was subject to Government regulations under British law:- ‘I must confirm at the outset that your Clerical Medical pension is not a personal pension, but a Section 32 Buyout Plan. Although this plan is not a final salary scheme, the pension funds held in this plan are the result of a transfer from an old occupational scheme as you note in your letter. A portion of the fund is made up of contacted-out benefits from that employment, known as Guaranteed Minimum Pension or GMP. As the name implies, GMP guarantees to pay you a certain level of pension income in respect of the contracted-out portion of your pension funds.’ All very clear, plain, straightforward and simple. However, when I retired, CM insisted that a further document which had only been available on an ‘on-request’ basis totally contradicted the issued documents and the contract I signed in good faith, and maintained that they could use the ‘Investment Funds’ to supplement the payment of the GMP, resulting in a significant financial loss. According to the above legal advice the only term at the discretion of CM was to quantify and define that portion of the fund containing the ‘contracted-out portion’, and on that basis CM had no legal right to use the other portion of the fund to supplement the payment of a GMP; I understand that non-compliance with Government regulations under British law would be classed as a criminal offence. The FOS ‘decision’ upheld CM’s view yet, based upon the above legal advice, the FOS in my opinion appear to be condoning a criminal offence. According to the FOS:- ‘…our ombudsmen have a statutory duty to reach a decision they consider to be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.’ The FOS Independent Assessor also stated that:- ‘… whilst Ombudsmen have to take account of the law they are not bound by it.’ In my opinion I find it difficult to believe that ombudsmen have the authority to allow a firm to commit what appears to be a criminal offence and how such an offence can be considered to be ‘fair and reasonable’! The actual statement by the former ‘Economic Secretary at HM Treasury’ was:- ‘Accordingly the Ombudsman is not required to follow the approach which a court might take to evidential matters although he must “take into account the relevant law”.’ If you take the law into account then surely there is only one option – you must abide by it. The FOS subsequently sought legal advice at the insistence of my former MP but refused to provide a copy of Counsel’s assessment claiming legal privilege; I finally acquired a copy after 3 years under threat of the FOI Act. On receipt of Counsel’s assessment I complained that the FOS had misled and misinformed Counsel and did not provide him with a copy of the ‘Product Guide’, but the FOS refuse to comment. The assessment stated that:- ‘Naturally, if my instructing Solicitor has any queries arising out of this Opinion, seeks advice on any other aspects of Mr …..’s complaints or wishes to discuss the matter, she should not hesitate to contact me in Chambers , by telephone or email’. The assessment also stated that:- The FOS ‘General Counsel’s Department’ were ‘Solicitors for the Intended Claimant’. Yet I was never consulted, and my requests that a corrected assessment should be obtained where I am fully represented and allowed to ensure my evidence is taken into consideration have been continually rejected. The FOS website clearly states that:- ‘As in any organisation, things can sometimes go wrong, if this happens, we want to know about it, so we can try to put things right.’ Yet when my current MP raised my concerns with the FOS, the Chief Ombudsman simply refused to provide answers because he maintained that their final decision ‘…marks the end of our complaints handling process’. My MP stated:- ‘As your Member of Parliament I can ask the regulatory authorities to review how they have handled a case and reconsider if the correct outcome has been reached. I am not in a position, nor should I be, to insist or force the authority to come to a different decision’. Surely an MP has every right to insist that a Government agency responsible to Parliament review their ‘decision’, particularly if there is evidence that they may be condoning a criminal offence. The response from the ‘Chair’ of the Public Accounts Committee was that they are ‘precluded from investigating individual cases’ despite the fact that between 2010 and 2012 there were 3,771 complaints against CM related solely to ‘Decumulation, life and pensions’. Furthermore, when I retired CM refused to allow access to my pension fund unless I signed a disclaimer absolving CM from all future claims, which also caused both considerable financial loss and significant stress. I was obviously not prepared to sign a disclaimer under the above conditions as I was still attempting to pursue my complaint via my MP, the FOS, the FCA and other routes. The FCA subsequently issued a directive which declared that the contract was unfair and instructed CM to remove the disclaimer clause, but CM again refused to compensate for the loss of income and unnecessary stress. The ‘decision’ by the FOS, who must follow FCA regulations, was that it was my fault because it was ‘fair and reasonable’ for a consumer to sign a disclaimer which the FCA had declared was ‘unfair’! The ludicrous part is that had I previously signed a disclaimer I would have been unable to raise this complaint! Complaints to the FCA are rejected because they do not consider pre 1995 contracts even though they inherited the role of earlier regulators, and because it is considered to be an ‘individual’ complaint. Yet the FCA website showed that between 2010, when CM ceased selling new policies, and 2012 there have been 3,771 complaints against CM related solely to ‘Decumulation, life and pensions’, Also, according to the FCA:- ‘The FCA’s Supervisory activity focuses primarily on the manner in which and the extent to which firms it supervises are acting in accordance with the provisions of the relevant handbook, rather than the application of “British Law”.’ Yet again it would appear that an agency appointed by the British Government does not have to apply British Law! The usual trite comment is that an individual pensioner can always take legal action against a financial conglomerate although, of course, they are fully aware of the fact that it is way beyond the means of most pensioners, and no individual within the Lloyds TSB group will be personally financially liable. Has anyone else had similar problems as in my opinion the whole episode has been little short of disgraceful.
]Afternoon All, I have had to leave my job as the problems with my lower back just do not allow me to stand on my feet for 8 hours straight, and my doctor has issued me a fitnote and referred me to a musculoskeletal specialist. I was on ESA from Jun-Dec 2013 and returned myself to work (before having an atos medial, i hadn't been declared fit nor unfit for wok) as the treatment i was receiving then had some effect and i felt human again but i am no longer allowed the injections and im back to square one and the pain most mornings means its physically difficult to even get my socks on.... anyways I just now phoned the ESA new claim line and the operator took some initial details and then informed me we could not go any futher as the claim had to be done on a 'clerical claim form' which they will post out 1st class. (Apparently all things they send to you now are 1st class as of quite recently) I am worried there is a problem as when i claimed last year it was all done over the phone. I asked him about linking my previous claim and he said the computer tells us if thats what will happen when so much has been entered, but we never got that far. What is a clerical claim form? Should I be concerned? Why do they need it to be done this way now when previously it was done on the phone? In advance, Thanksyou, Adam
Hi all I've just had notification of a second repo order on my house, after a many year fight. I won the last round with a walking possession order over me but still owned a house at the end of it. I did a 550 mile round trip in a day for that too. Phew. Here is the background: I moved someone in whilst I'm working away to afford the mortgage payments whilst I deal with the arrears repayments. They get paid on 10th of the month, leaving me around 10 days behind every month. I asked Hamilns Solicitors (Santander litigation dept) whether this was a problem as I could make it up in the interim somehow. They said it wasn't a problem at all as long as it comes around the 10th, agreement sorted. Cut to last month. I phone up to see how I'm doing, apparently it has been returned to Santander as the arrears level has dropped low enough to be returned. Awesome! Only they did not mention the 10th of the month agreement to Santander. Instantly the 31st July came, computer says no, warrant kicks straight in, now I have a repossession order for 19th August!! Bunch of... All this time I have complied, giving them my correspondence address and email, which they have had on file for 2 years plus. They sent the notification to my property up north, not to my correspondence address. They have done everything by email thus far, where I reply instantly…except this REALLY IMPORTANT bit. They didn't tell me any of this by email, nor pass any of this detail back to Santander. No phone call, nothing. I just got a random phone call from my very worried tenant. Should I just tell the court all this and fight it, or am I likely to lose? can't find £1800 in 11 days - it's not possible unless you're a big bank like Santander. I've fought hammer and tooth for this for 5 years and am just getting somewhere with my debt clearance. Things are on the up apart from this. All my council tax arrears are gone after this month, leaving me better off still. Any advice? Do I send out an N244 quick smart with all this on? Do you think a judge would give me the benefit of the doubt, seeing as its my second visit? I can't even afford to go up there and take time out from work - it might have to be a telephone hearing. Muchos gracias J