One question which I am asked perhaps more than any other by prospective clients is
“Can I not make a mis-selling claim myself?”
The answer, of course, is yes.
You can outline your concerns to the firm which gave you advice and if you are not happy with their response you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to review your case again, free of charge.
I would not dissuade anyone who had the confidence to do themselves justice from taking that course.
There are benefits, however, to having representation – even though there will be a success fee to pay at the end.
Here is the story of a recent case to illustrate the point:
An NHS doctor (let’s call him Dr A) approached me, concerned at having been mis-sold a Free-Standing Additional Voluntary Contribution (FSAVC) pension plan by Zurich in 1992.
After investigating the sale, Zurich conceded the policy had been mis-sold and offered £3,644.64 in compensation. It said this had been calculated using the loss assessment methodology laid down by its regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.
If representing himself, it is likely Dr A would have accepted Zurich’s assurance and settled his case.
However, I did not agree the firm had assessed his loss correctly. I argued for an alternative approach and eventually Zurich agreed.
On the revised basis, Dr A’s loss was in fact £23,280.96.
Most people would jump at an offer of that size. I advised Dr A not to, as Zurich had not added interest to this loss for the period he had been deprived of the use of this money.
After an appeal, Zurich agreed to add interest. It calculated an additional £5,482.45 was due, now bringing the total compensation offer to £28,763.41.
Again, I advised against settling because the interest rate used by Zurich was not the one usually recommended by either the Courts or the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Using the correct rate would give interest of £26,991.34, bringing the final settlement to £50,272.30.
Even after fees and VAT, that leaves Dr A more than ten times better off than he would have been if accepting the original offer of £3,644.64.
This, I think, illustrates the value of having representation.