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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask the amount that has been appropriated please approximately?
Is the FA in question regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority?
At what stage has your complaint to the FO reached to date?
Yes the FA and his company is regulated by the financial conduct authority,and i have confirmed with them in a phonecall that the FA was registered with them at the time of my involvement with him and his company.The FO has contacted his company (Active Financial Partners and they in turn contacted me to provide details,bank statements etc,which i have done.They were given 8 weeks to respond by the FO and since providing the evidence,and giving a written statement to Hampshire police.I am yet to hear back anything from either Active Financial partners or the police.Since submitting my evidence and statement over 4 weeks ago.The amount in question is 70,000 pounds plus interest over 2.5 years.
My apologies for the delay in reverting to you. I am around on and off through out the day today. Thank you for the above. For the avoidance of doubt, do I understand correctly from what you say above that the FO provided the FA company 8 weeks to provide evidence and that was circa 4 weeks ago butt they have yet to do so. Meanwhile you have provided your own statement and contacted the police and are waiting. Is that an accurate summary?
Yes thats correct,i have been in email contact directly with a representative from Active financial partners,with whom ive submitted my claims and evidence.I hold them responsible for what has transpired asThey were negligable in notifying me as a client that the FA in question was struck off their books not very long after i entrusted him with investing my savings,i had to ring them up to make inqueries regarding my portfolio,and it was at that point it was apparent that my funds were not on their files,they even assigned me a new FA who never made an introduction to me until i made contact to find out what was going on.
Since no word has been forthcoming for a while now i dont know where the investigation is at between The FO and Active finacial partners.
Thank you. Based upon what you say you appear to have done all the right things. The Financial Ombudsman has legal authority to determine the matter and their determination is binding upon the Financial Advisor firm though it is not binding upon you - in other words if you dont like their determination you can decide instead to go to court though the Financial Advisor has no such right.
If this is a case of fraud whereby an individual financial advisor has embezzled your funds and is therefore a case of theft and/or fraud then there is little question about which way the Financial Ombudsman decision will go as there is no defence to theft. You can in addition to the return of your capital ask the Ombudsman to award compensation for lost interest or such other investment profit you can show you could have reasonably expected to receive.
Unfortunately the Financial Ombudsman service like many other bodies is stretched and they can take some time to resolve complaints simply due to workload. You can ask them for an indication as to the timescale they expect to be able to resolve your complaint which will vary depending upon the complexity of the matter but my general understanding is that more straightforward complaints are typically resolved within around 3 months though this is a moving feast depending upon workload. Do remember that you are able to ask for interest or such other compensation as is reasonable for the period you are without your money. Also if you can demonstrate financial hardship or some other circumstances which mean not having access to your money is causing you particular hardship, you can ask the Ombudsman to prioritise your case on that basis - you would need to provide evidence of any hardship or circumstances you claim if you ask for this.
Ultimately if you are unhappy with the Ombudsman service it is possible to complain about the service you are receiving and have an independent assessor review the case officers handling though one would normally only consider this if you feel you have exhausted all options with your case officer. There is more information about how to complain using the following link:http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/faq/answers/complaints_a12.html
At this stage in my view the approach to take would be to contact the Ombudsman and ask them for an update on the case in particular, the stage they have reached and a timetable they anticipate for resolution highlighting any hardship the lack of money is causing and if you feel justified, asking them to priortse the case accordingly. The only alternative is to issue proceedings in the County Court - I would not recommend this approach because it will still take at least 3 months to come to court (probably longer) and you will have to pay court fees up front. The Ombudsman typically offers a better option given it is free and allows you access to court if you don't like their decision.
It can be an exercise in patience to be sure but the Ombudsman are overall an effective service for the consumer and they will get there and in the assumption their decision is in your favour you should not be left out of pocket with their award reflecting lost interest or investment profit you can show you have lost.
The police is somewhat of a separate issue in that they are unlikely to be able to recover you any money - though they can through measures to recover assets optained by criminal means though it is slow process. Rather they would be involved from a perspective of prosecuting the individual concerned if there is sufficient evidence of deliberate intent to steal or defraud you. This may be an important aspect to you in terms of seeing justice done. It is therefore worth keeping in touch with the investigating officer but in terms of recovering your money the focus is likely to be more beneficial on the Ombudsman.
If any specific issues have arisen which you would like to duscuss, or for that matter if they crop up in the future please do revert to me and I would be happy to discuss these in detail. Otherwise, does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?