Friday, October 19, 2007



There appears to be something of a sting in the tail for some long suffering endowment holders who make a successful mis-selling claim through the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and then find that in fact their endowment policy recovers to leave no shortfall.

In the event that happens, the policy holder may have to repay money to their adviser.

A county court in Wales has ordered the claimant to pay back the sum of £1689, if their endowment manages to hit its original target of £13,000 in May 2010.

In September the FOS ordered retired independent financial adviser Eifion Hughes to pay the compensation to his client. However, Hughes refused to pay stating that the ombudsman had come to the wrong decision.

In an unpleasant irony, Hughes was then taken to court by the client who was being advised by an IFA acting as a claim-chaser.

The judge has upheld the complaint, but stipulated that the money would have to be paid back to the adviser on the policy's maturity if it reached above its expected value.

Hughes is quoted in The Herald as saying:

"At last this appears to be a victory for common sense. If the client loses out and it is the adviser's fault, he should pay out, but if there is no loss and perhaps even an extra gain, why should the adviser have to offer them money? Natural justice has won the day."

Evan Owen, chairman of the IFA Defence Union, said:

"It is refreshing to see the people who administer the law of the land reaching such conclusions. Let us hope that Lord Hunt takes this view on board as part of his review."

Quite right too!

As to whether many endowment polices will actually meet their targets, is open to conjecture. I can personally state that the two polices I hold with legal & General look very unlikely to get anywhere near their target.

It is also reported that almost 90% of Standard Life mortgage endowments are still highly unlikely to meet their targets.

However, I would also note that to some extent the IFA's (unless they were proven to be negligent) should not be the target of policy holders' wrath.

These lousy products were sold in the same manner as cars, TV's and other consumer products. Their sole purpose being to pay off the mortgage.

As a result of hidden/excess charges, lousy management and misrepresentation of the prospects by the funds themselves, they are massively underperfomring.

They are not fit for purpose.

It should not be the IFA's that are targeted, but the fund managers. The only solution to this shameful scandal is for the fund mangers to underwrite their useless, badly managed, products.

Monday, October 08, 2007



Much like the depressing inevitability of the return of an unloved season I received two red warning letters from my endowment provider, Legal & General (L&G), the other day. I am the "proud" owner of two endowment policies taken out with Legal & General, one in 1987 and the other in 1991.

Needless to say, neither are on target to reach their objective (ie to pay off my mortgage).

Legal & General claim, using three projected returns, that the 1987 policy (target £35000) will produce the following results:

-4% shortfall £5400
-6% shortfall £2700
-8% surplus £ 300

The 1991 policy (target £39700) will produce the following shortfalls:

-4% shortfall £10200
-6% shortfall £ 7500
-8% surplus £ 4600

Hardly a "stellar" performance is it?

The question remains though, how is it that some endowment companies have been able to manage their funds sufficiently well so as not to produce a shortfall whilst Legal & General haven't?