This week’s top comment came from Andy Wilson, in response to the article: Brokers still not using suitability letters ‘scares me’ – Jannels
He said: “All advisers need to have a robust file that could represent a solid ‘case for the defence’ when the claims chasers come a calling, and with PPI (payment protection insurance) claims having ended, you can expect mortgages to be the next targets.
“You may think the discussions you had with clients will be enough to protect you if you document some of the outcomes, but clients who later make complaints tend to have selective memories as to what they were told.
“Your only defence against accusations of poor advice is to have a clear suitability letter and file notes that summarise accurately what was said, which are all dated and timed.”
He added: “Take a look at any one of your client files and imagine a complaint has come in that says this:
- The adviser did not consider my future circumstances in the advice process
- The adviser ignored my overall financial position
- The adviser ignored the fact I couldn’t afford this mortgage
- The adviser did not ascertain my attitude to risk on interest rates, inflation, house prices and the possibility of early repayment
- The adviser knew I planned to retire before the mortgage term ended meaning I could not afford it after retirement
“Does your file have documented evidence to confirm all of these points were covered? If not, it only takes one of the challenges to succeed for you to be coughing up compensation.
“Don’t forget, in the world of complaints, the customer is always right, and things that might have been said weren’t said unless you also have it written down.”
Concluding, Wilson said: “I speak as a previous director of a firm that had over 400 complaints, mostly endowment-related, and the ones we lost were the ones with no clear documentation on file.
“In my own business, established for over eight years, we have not had a single complaint, but if a claims chaser complaint was to come in, I am confident the files would pass muster.”