When you plan to make an investment, your first step is most likely to talk to an investment adviser. But with all the stories of mis-sold investment products hitting the newspapers in recent years, it’s more important than ever to hold your adviser to account.
Reports on investment mis-selling have barely been off the front pages in recent years, with banks and building societies publicly held to account.
Since 2010 the high street banks have been hitting the headlines for mis-selling investment products to their customers. Most of them have apologised, promised to make changes and paid out a hefty amount in fines and compensation, but investments are still being mis-sold to unsuspecting customers.
Investment mis-selling never seems to be out of the news for long. UK banks and other financial institutions are taking steps to stop mis-selling in their sales teams, but the pressure to clean up their acts only grows as they come under increasing public scrutiny.
Banks have paid out huge amounts in compensation for investment mis-selling in recent years, with complaints reaching a record high in 2013, but people are still largely unaware of the ways they can be mis-sold by their investment advisers.
When you think of an investor, you might think of a high-flying business person. You may imagine someone living in an urban environment, with a successful career, perhaps even a penthouse and a glamorous champagne lifestyle. These are the people, you might envisage, who are most likely to be mis-sold an investment product.
Investment products are big business for UK banks. Encouraging clients to place significant sums into structured investment products or funds is a winning formula for the bank’s financial liquidity. As a result, they are motivated to promote investment products as actively as possible.
According to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) back in 1988, “if a financial business provided a recommendation, it had to be advice with reasonable care and skill.” Since then, complaints for mis-sold investment have continued to pour in, many related to poor financial advice and pressure selling tactics.
If you suspect you’ve been mis-sold an investment, you have the right to complain about the advice you’ve been given. But you may have heard of the so-called ‘six year rule’ that applies to compensation claims – it means that a time limit can be applied if the advice you received was given over six years ago, and you may not eligible to claim compensation as a result.
If you want to better understand the scale of financial mis-selling in British banking, consider this: in the five years from 2011 to 2016, four of the UK’s biggest high street banks will have paid out at least £61 billion in penalties. That’s nearly double the GDP of Luxembourg.
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