We use a cookie to track website usage anonymously, so we can analyse trends and improve our website (more info).  

News and Commentary

Subscribe to our newsletters
  Title Date  
  Actuarial and Redress Calculation Services for IFAs  
  Thu, 02 May 2019 | Nasar Zamir  
  Congruent is a specialist in redress calculations for pension and investment complaints. We also provide pension administration services for small self-administered pension schemes. Our team of actuaries and financial risk consultants are experts in advising on complex matters in financial disputes. Recognised for our expertise, we are regularly called upon to provide expert evidence services. Consumer complaints about financial products and services have been on the rise, with only a limited number of specialist firms that IFAs can reliably use to accurately calculate any redress due to the complainant. To meet the growing demand for redress calculations e.g. in an analysis of a DB pension transfer we are able to offer a cloud-based platform on a subscription basis - Congruent CalculationsTM. Our trusted platform will give you the confidence in providing accurate and compliant calculations in line with regulatory standards.  
  Pension Transfers - unsuitable advice  
  Wed, 07 Nov 2018 | Nasar Zamir  
  Consumers have a need for independent financial advice when it concerns arrangements to be made for future pensions. This is particularly true for pension transfers where there is a regulatory requirement for anyone who wishes to convert safeguarded benefits that are worth more than £30,000, e.g. a defined benefit pension, to a flexible arrangement, e.g. those provided by a personal pensions plan (SIPP). Unfortunately, not all financial advice is compliant and poor advice may lead to significant loss for the consumer. We believe consumers will need professional assistance from industry practitioners and Congruent have therefore launched a new service to assist these customers. [see link below]  
  Do you know how much you are paying for death insurance?  
  Mon, 05 Nov 2018 | Roger Grenville-Jones  
  Most insurance policies that pay out on your death are for very many years and include an investment element (either a maturity value at a chosen age or a surrender value if the policy is terminated). This investment element masks the mortality charges (ie the cost of insurance). There are two completely different methods –mortality charges fixed at outset or changed throughout your life. [See link below for the rest of the article.]  
  Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Ltd (“BBSAL”) Vs Financial Ombudsman Service Limited (“FOS”)  
  Sun, 04 Nov 2018 | Nasar Zamir  
  The high court dismissed an application by the claimant (BBSAL) for judicial review of a FOS decision. The Ombudsman upheld a complaint against BBSAL regarding loss of capital in relation to a permitted investment held in the SIPP platform administered by BBSAL. It was the Ombudsman view the BBSAL did not perform sufficient due diligence on the permitted investment and thereby contravened the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) Principles of Business where; 1) a firm must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence (principle 2) 2)a firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly (principle 6) The court was not persuaded by arguments advanced by BBSAL that it did not advise the client nor did it have duty to check the appropriateness of the investment - as per COBS 9 & 10. Conversely BBSAL argued it had an obligation to execute the transaction on a best efforts basis - as per COBS 11. BBSAL also advanced arguments that the decision between the FOS and Pension Ombudsman Scheme (“POS”) was not consistent – the POS in similar cases ruled against the consumer. However the FOS argued that the regulatory frameworks were different for the FOS and POS and the Ombudsman had wider powers and was not restricted to matters of law – he was able to take into account regulator’s rules and guidance, codes of practice and good industry practice at the relevant time to arrive at a fair and reasonable determination of the complaint. We think that this decision will have a significant impact on current SIPP operators. They will be required to perform better due diligence on permitted investments and make provisions for potential claims on existing investments where the consumer has suffered losses. The FCA has reminded SIPP operators that they had to pay due regard to the FCA Principles of Business in any orderly sale of any block of business where there is a risk of business failure due to potential consumer complaints.  
  GRG complaints process in UK to close to new complaints on 22 October 2018  
  Wed, 25 Jul 2018 | Nasar Zamir  
  RBS announced on the 20 July 2018 three months’ notice to all remaining eligible UK customers that the GRG complaints process will close to new complaints on 22 October 2018. See web link for further information.  
  The market expectation for UK Base Rates  
  Mon, 26 Mar 2018 | Nasar Zamir  
  There has been much talk in the financial press recently about possible interest rate increases where some market participants believe that interest rate increases will be at a greater pace and to a greater extent than previously expected. Most financial institutions have models and systems in place to assist them in analysing the market expectation of future interest rates whereas most smaller businesses does not have access to these tools or the required insight to assist them for financial planning purposes. See link below for further information.  
  The Role of Actuaries as Expert Witness  
  Mon, 15 Jan 2018 | Roger Grenville-Jones  
  When computers started to be used seriously in business, I was asked whether actuaries would become redundant, as computers can calculate numbers a lot more cheaply. But it was true then, and now, that actuaries earn their keep by ensuring that the right numbers are being calculated. This fact underlies my work as an expert, focusing on two aspects of numbers: first, that they are appropriate to the situation, and second (a hobbyhorse of mine) ensuring that advice about financial risk has an array of numbers attached so that the recipient can appreciate the risk (and can focus their attention on the material issues). See weblink for full article.  
  Ground Rents - A Risk Based Valuation  
  Wed, 06 Dec 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  Prospective investors in leasehold properties typically do not understand the significance of the inflation uplift in ground rents. A combination of high inflation and low interest rates in the UK (mainly due to the effect of the UK leaving the European Union) has caused ground rent investments to be highly valuable. Obviously this has a negative impact on leaseholders who wish to purchase the ground rents e.g. as part of an enfranchisement process. The valuation of ground rents may follow a market based risk approach as detailed in this note. See attached link.  
  FCA Final Summary - RBS Global Restructuring Group  
  Tue, 05 Dec 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  On 23 October 2017 the Financial Conduct Authority (???FCA???) published an interim report on the independent review of Royal Bank of Scotland (???RBS???)???s treatment of SME customers that were in their Global Restructuring Group (???GRG???). On 28 November 2017 FCA published their final report. There were 214 amendments in the final report ??? most of these were minor changes but there are some significant amendments, which we would like to highlight. It is clear that FCA wishes to adopt stronger language in the final report and some of FCA???s comments are quite significant concerning the treatment of SME customers. Those customers who are currently in the RBS GRG Complaint Process should take note of these comments. We highlight the comments that we regard as the most significant amendments in this update ??? many are new additions to the previous interim report, each is damning and in total they are a very significant indictment of RBS. See link below.  
  GRG Complaints Progress Update - 23 October 2017  
  Mon, 06 Nov 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  The bank has recently released the third progress report. The timing of this report coincides with the publication of the FCA Interim Summary (see our condensed update). In this update there is an updated report from the Independent Third Party - Sir William Blackburne. This is his third report and in this update he notes that the bank activity is picking up (although not as quickly as he would like) through a redesign of the complaints process. We have noted some highlights below: ??? 154 decisions have been made by RBS but there are 800 complaints awaiting a decision. ??? Only 9 appeals are currently being reviewed by the ITP. The ITP has reached a conclusion on 4 ??? dismissing 3 and upholding 1. ??? The ITP also performs a role with respect to Assurance in the complaints process. In this role the ITP selects a sample to test for a consistent outcome according to the agreed complaints process methodology and in his report 79 of the 85 complaint outcomes were deemed compliant. See https://www.rbs.com/GRG for full update.  
  FCA Interim Summary - RBS Global Restructuring Group  
  Mon, 06 Nov 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  FCA???s ???Interim Summary??? of the statutory ???skilled person???s??? report entitled ???RBS Group???s treatment of SME customers referred to the Global Restructuring Group??? (???the GRG Report???). The FCA published the above report at the end of October 2017 through some pressure from the Treasury Select Committee (???the Committee???). As the name implies it is a summary of the more comprehensive (300 page) report by Promontory Group ??? the ???skilled person???. The report is deemed to represent a fair and balanced account of the findings of the GRG report ??? this being the assessment of external counsel appointed by the Committee. Findings The Interim Summary itself is over 60 pages long but does highlight a number of areas of concern which are summarised as follows: [See link below]  
  GRG Complaints Progress Update - 1 September 2017  
  Mon, 04 Sep 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  The bank has released the second progress report. The timing of the report coincides with a number of articles published by the Times in recent days expressing the dissatisfaction of customers in the bank complaints process. In this update there is report from the Independent Third Party - Sir William Blackburne. This is his second report and the most critical - particular in terms of delays by the bank. We have noted some highlights below: (a) Only 3 customers have received outcomes as of the date of the report (b) There have not been any appeals to date (c) Two "ITP delegates" will be appointed to assist in the appeal process The bank states that the automatic refund is substantially complete - with the exception of a handful of cases. The bank also states that it will complete the complaints process by the end of 2017. We think this timetable is ambitious judging from the current state of the complaints process. The bank has also provided helpful FAQs on the appeal process which confirms the restrictive nature of the appeal process e.g. no appeal on Consequential Losses etc. The most significant update is the explanation of what constitutes a Consequential Loss and some helpful examples on the standard of evidence required to support a claim. Those familiar with the FCA IRHP Review process will see parallels in the design. We remain concerned about the link between Direct Loss and Consequential Loss. The bank will only review a claim if you have accepted the Direct Loss and therefore if there is no Direct Loss (or a small loss) there cannot be a claim (or at least a significant claim) for consequential losses.  
  Financial Claims - Congruent and our Competitors  
  Wed, 21 Jun 2017 | Roger Grenville-Jones  
  Congruent is one of many firms offering help. But we don???t all operate in the same way or from the same skill set and experience. Congruent???s skill set is actuarial and is based on experience in financial risk management learned in-house in insurance and banking institutions as well as in providing expert witness testimony. Obviously we have competitors, either with the same skill sets and experience or with alternatives - that may be more suitable in some situations. Congruent recognises that we may not be the best choice in all circumstances ??? ???horses for courses???. However we are concerned at the extent of competitors offering competing services without observing the various laws that have been enacted by parliament to provide consumer protection. See link for for further information.  
  The Role of the Independent Third Party ("ITP") in the RBS GRG Complaints Process  
  Mon, 12 Jun 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  RBS has appointed Sir William Blackburne as the ITP. His role is to provide ???Assurance??? and ???Appeals??? in relation to the complaint process. ??? The Assurance process. To test the robustness of the process the ITP will sample (in a randomized way) approximately 10% of the complaints for adherence to this process. It is not clear how this will be done but it is clear that this will not entail a full review of each complaint. ??? The Appeals process. Where a complainant exercises their right to appeal the ITP will undertake a detailed review of the underlying documents. Given the number of appeals could be significant the ITP will delegate this task to a team of recently qualified barristers who will put forward a recommendation to the ITP for his determination. The ITP provides a useful role in the complaints process but only time will tell whether it will be effective. In exercising the right to appeal, the complainant runs the risk that the appeal process may end up with a worse offer. In withdrawing the offer the bank could be accused of diluting the important role of the ITP  
  No Win ??? No Fee But at what cost if you win?  
  Fri, 02 Jun 2017 | Roger Grenville-Jones  
  You have a claim and need help. It might be a refund of Payment Protection Insurance premiums or you may be entitled to compensation for an injury. If you are a businessman or woman a bank might have mis-sold you an interest rate hedging product or moved you into special measures without justification and abused their power over you. ???No Win ??? No Fee??? sounds attractive so you sign up with a claims management company. Then you win and work out how much you have to pay, and it seems disproportionate to the extent of the help you were given. But even if the matter has been finalised ??? possibly years go - if you have paid too much you may be able to get some money back. See full article in link below.  
  Derivative instruments ??? financial risk and disclosure  
  Mon, 27 Mar 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  Most financial directors will be aware of the fair-value treatment of derivatives required by modern accounting standards, particularly with the introduction of FRS 102 (mandatory for periods commencing on or after 1 January 2016). This ???fair-value??? treatment has been well understood by the banks for many years, by developing and implementing sophisticated models for valuation and risk modelling of derivative instruments, in order to assist their knowledge of the financial risks inherent in their ???book??? of these products. However, the end users of derivative products (either corporate or non-sophisticated financial institutions) typically do not have the skills, knowledge or expertise to value or model the risks of their holdings of derivative instruments. Instead, they are forced to rely on their product provider or accountant to provide them with a basic level of information to satisfy disclosure and financial reporting requirements. [See link for the rest of the article]  
  FRS 102: Tackling the hidden pitfalls  
  Tue, 21 Mar 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  The majority of accountants are already aware of the ???fair-value??? treatment of derivatives required by modern accounting standards, particularly with the introduction of FRS 102 (mandatory for periods commencing on or after 1 January 2016). This ???fair-value??? treatment has been well understood by the banks for many years, however, the end users of derivative products (either corporate or non-sophisticated financial institutions) typically do not have the skills, knowledge or expertise to value or model the risks of their holdings of derivative instruments. See link below.  
  RBS (mis) conduct provisions increase to almost ??6 BLN according to 2016 Financial Results  
  Mon, 27 Feb 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  RBS released the 2016 financial results on the 24 February 2016. The loss for 2016 of almost ??7 BLN includes a ??3 BLN provision for RMBS issuance and underwriting, ??600 MLN of additional PPI provisions and ??400 MLN provision with respect to RBS treatment of SMEs by GRG. We think the ??400 MLN provision looks optimistic (it includes costs of running the scheme, refund of complex fees and compensation payouts!) - compare this with a ??1.4 BLN cost incurred by RBS under the FCA IRHP Review and you can expect an upward revision of this provision.  
  How and why to support clients with the RBS GRG complaints process  
  Tue, 07 Feb 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  Nasar Zamir of Congruent discusses the RBS complaints process for GRG losses and how specialist guidance can best support a claim. See Accountancy Age article in link below.  
  RBS GRG Complaints Process ??? Latest Update  
  Mon, 06 Feb 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  Update 1 February 2017. The bank updated the guidance on their website. There are a few important changes that should be highlighted. 1) For customers of the Republic of Ireland that were affected by GRG actions are subject to a different ombudsman scheme (Financial Services Ombudsman or "FSO") and therefore different guidelines for complaint resolution i.e. the Central Bank of Ireland???s Consumer Protection Code (???CPC???). This code is analogous to FCA DISP but has different timetable and procedure for the management of complaints. 2) The bank has clarified the process of appeal to the Independent Third Party (???ITP"). It states that any offer is open for acceptance within a 28 day period. The offer will lapse after this 28 period or if an appeal is made to the ITP. The updated principles also note that upon appeal there will only be one further i.e. final outcome letter which will incorporate the ITP decision.  
  RBS GRG Complaints Process ??? Information Pack  
  Thu, 19 Jan 2017 | Nasar Zamir  
  Our detailed information pack includes: 1) an overview of the complaint process 2) the service Congruent will provide 3) the principles that apply in the complaint process 4) the journey for the customer 5) frequently asked questions on the complaint process  
Congruent Actuarial Limited is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Claims Management Company
Registered Office: 141-142 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 6BL, United Kingdom
© Congruent 2019 | Business Information | Website Privacy Policy | Data Protection Policy | Media
Telephone: 020 3143 3150
Email: team@mycongruent.com
Follow us on TwitterFollow us on FacebookFollow us on LinkedIn