Law firm offers help for disgruntled customers

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The Independent Online

Anderson Macrae, a west London law firm which acts for financial institutions in legal disputes, on Monday starts one of the first such services aimed at the public.

Allis Karim, who has acted for such controversial companies as Albany Life, Gan Life and Windsor Life, is to head the service. "Anderson Macrae will be the very first law firm in the UK able to offer consumers specialist advice and representation on all kinds of financial services disputes from banking matters to mis-selling of retail products," he said.

The service is starting at a time when dissatisfaction with financial services providers is higher than for many years, and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has been fining companies millions of pounds for mis-selling and other failings.

Anderson will deal with complaints against insurers, banks and financial advisers, all types of insurance claims litigation, referrals to the Financial Ombudsman, negotiating compensation and assessing financial loss. It will also branch into advising on negligent investment advice, mis-selling and poor investment and administration services as well as debt and money management issues.

Mr Karim, 38, said: "We will aim to encourage efficient communication and mediation at all levels to prevent matters becoming unnecessarily stressful and contentious for the client. Our overall aim being not only to assist the client, but also to raise financial literacy awareness levels. We will not be providing financial advice or seeking to sell financial products. That would defeat the whole purpose of the service."

The new service is relying on evidence that customers are demonstrating that they are no longer willing to put up with shoddy investment and insurance advice, and they increasingly want to know the exact reasons why their insurance claims are being turned down.

"As the industry's regulator, the FSA exists ultimately to ensure that the customer is protected from financial rogues and bad advice," said Mr Karim.

"However, the onus is still on the customer to make the first move and initiate a complaint. The FSA will not do it for them. The increase in the volume of complaints over recent times demonstrates one thing: nobody likes losing money. Why should customers suffer in silence if they have lost money through no fault of their own?"

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