The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the established conduct regulator for 58,000 financial services firms across the UK. It operates with substantial powers to ensure that financial professionals and firms display integrity and fairness to consumers. These powers include the right to suspend financial products and to revoke an organisation’s authorisation to provide financial services. In extreme cases, the FCA may also oversee the insolvency protocols for financial firms that have been declared insolvent.
Such was the case for the independent financial advisory (IFA) firm Douglas Baillie Ltd. – also operating as the Pension Specialists. The firm is one of many IFAs embroiled in pension transfer controversies, in which clients were encouraged to transfer their pensions into self-invested personal pension (SIPP) plans with alternative investment portfolios.
Douglas Baillie suspended the pension transfer side of its business in 2013, but figures suggest that the Perth-based firm managed as many as 9,000 pension transfers in its time. The FCA subsequently de-authorised the firm in November 2016, stating: “This is a firm that can no longer provide regulated products and services”.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has already upheld claims against Douglas Baillie, with evidence suggesting that the firm held agreements with unregulated introducers and advised clients to invest in unregulated, high-risk schemes such as alternative fuels and storage units. Douglas Baillie has since gone into default, and an Insolvency Practitioner (IP) is now responsible for resolving the financial difficulties faced by the firm. The IP will attempt to rescue the stakeholders financial interests by collecting any money that is due, or by selling assets such as the client bank.
Typically, when a financial management company is made insolvent, the client bank is hotly contested by claims companies or solicitors who will bid for the information due to its significant potential claims value. These organisations can then profit by contacting clients and leading their claims for financial compensation, profiting themselves through commission structures.
However, the FCA has intervened in the case of Douglas Baillie, ruling that the IP cannot sell the client blank. This mandate means that many clients may not be made aware of their potential right to compensation, even though the company began liquidating in 2013.
Financial Claims from Money and Me Claims
Money and Me Claims is an independent financial claims management company that was established in 2009 to support consumers who feel they have been mis-sold financial products or services. We have successfully worked with our customers towards attaining compensation, with many cases where individuals were awarded the maximum sum available.
We have already acted on behalf of a number of Douglas Baillie clients and would urge you to come forward if you were one of the thousands of clients that received financial advice from the firm before they were de-authorised by the FCA. Contact us if you would like to know more.
If you have been wrongly advised, learn more about mis-sold SIPP claims.