This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:
what's the ombudsman's approach to complaints involving "basic advice" and "simplified advice"?
We are already used to dealing with complaints about many financial products where there is no specific requirement in relation to "suitability" or "know your customer". In such cases – as long as they have not been misled – we expect consumers to be responsible for their own choice.
We assess any complaint we deal with involving the sale of a "stakeholder product" on the understanding that the consumer received "basic advice". We will not, for example, expect a "fact find" to have been completed – or the adviser to have made detailed enquiries to "know the customer". As with other products, we take the regulator's rules and guidance into account. We also look at good industry practice.
"Simplified advice" processes must comply with the same regulatory requirements as those involving full advice – including the requirement that the advice has to be "suitable". But in any complaints we might receive, we would judge the advice in the specific context in which it was given. So we would not expect a "full fact-finding" exercise. But we would look at the questions asked and the options open to the particular consumer concerned.
Where the "simplified advice" involves an automated process, we would look – as part of our consideration of any complaint – at whether there was a good record of the information the consumer gave and the choices they made.