The Pensioneer Trustee Company (Guernsey) Limited
T +44 (0) 1481 743760
One of the key issues for individual’s who want to take advantage of an International Pension Plan (IPP) run from a location such as Guernsey is ensuring their investment has the right safeguards in place. The recent launch of the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman will help provide the kind of infrastructure that makes this possible.
It has been introduced to strengthen the financial industry in Guernsey, Jersey, Sark and Alderney, providing customers with the opportunity for an independent review should a member have a dispute with a particular financial service provider.
What is the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman?
The full powers of the CIFO came into effect in November 2015 after legislation was passed in both Jersey and Guernsey. It operates for the whole of financial services in the Channel Islands and operates from a shared office in Jersey. Their job is to help resolve disputes between a financial services company and their client.
The cost of running the ombudsman is covered by the financial industries themselves and the use of their services is open to individuals, micro-enterprises and charities irrespective of where they are based in the world. That means that for example a school or individual in Asia can make a complaint to the CIFO if they have a financial portfolio managed in the Channel Islands and are not happy with the service.
How Does It Affect International Pension Plans?
IPP’s administered from locations such as Guernsey now offer this as an additional attraction and proposition for individuals as well as companies and organisations. For those who are globally mobile, an IPP allows easy access to a reliable pension plan in a well-regulated jurisdiction. It means they don’t have to agree to different plans depending on where they are working at a particular time and can put their money into one pot. This is considered the more effective way to save for the future if you enjoy the life of the globally mobile and international nomads.
What the CIFO now does is provide a safety net for those clients who feel they have not received the right service or due diligence from the company they have chosen to deal with. This strengthens the pension industry in places like Guernsey, holding them more accountable. It essentially means there is somewhere central where you can complain if there is a problem and get an independent decision.
Submitting a Complaint to the CIFO
The guidelines for making a complaint about a financial institution operating in the Channel Islands is fairly simply. First of all, there should have been an attempt to resolve the complaint with the financial services provider. If this is not subsequently addressed to the satisfaction of the customer and they want to put the complaint to an independent body, they can complete the online form for the CIFO who will investigate. The CIFO look at the complaint to see if it falls under the remit in respect of the current law.
Where the CIFO find that a pension provider has caused a loss to a customer, they will subsequently seek to find a resolution. They can in some circumstances decide what appropriate compensation should be provided.
While these are early days for the CIFO and the real impact has yet to be seen, International pension providers across the Channel Islands, including Guernsey, have agreed to sign up to the process. This is great news for international nomads who have IPPs or are thinking of getting one, delivering the kind of safety net that increases confidence in the industry.