If you’ve entered into an IVA and have any issues regarding its ongoing management then you can certainly raise a complaint about your chosen advisor.
IVA’s can only be set-up and managed by certain professionals and thereafter they must act in a formal capacity – for example, as an advisor, a supervisor of the IVA or a nominee. All these separate roles are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and should they fail in their duties then you remain at liberty to report them.
In addition to their regulatory body, all advisors should follow a voluntary code of practice known as the IVA Protocol. This ensures that all the processes involved in setting up and managing an IVA are clear and fair for all concerned.
Should you have any reason to complain about your advisor then you should complain to them directly in the first instance. Most firms will have a separate complaints procedure (which they may provide you with once you sign up with them). This should detail the process that you need to follow in order to make a complaint and who you should contact within the firm about your concerns. Whilst most companies will accept verbal complaints it’s always advisable to follow up any conversation in writing so that you can easily evidence any conversations you may have had and (if necessary) will be able to prove exactly what was said by whom; and when.
If your complaint can’t be handled amicably then you can escalate your complaint to the Insolvency Service. You can do this online by clicking on their website and your concerns will be acknowledged by a member of their complaints team. Thereafter the Insolvency Service will consider your complaint and liaise with the company or advisor that you’d like to complain about before (hopefully) reaching an amicable decision.
In the event that you’re not satisfied with the outcome from the Insolvency Service then you can also make a complaint via Gov.uk. However, whilst they can’t reverse or alter the decision of an insolvency practitioner or intervene directly with your IVA, they can investigate further if it concerns unprofessional, improper or unethical actions taken by your advisor. Should your complaint reach this stage of the process then you might also want to seek independent legal advice, just in case the matter gets escalated to Court. You can also obtain free advice from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
What can the FCA do about my advisor?
If the FCA agree with the grounds of your complaint they can fine your advisor and even take away their practicing licence.
How can I avoid a complaint situation?
The best way to avoid protracted complaints procedures is to be totally upfront and honest with your advisor. If you don’t feel comfortable working with them then don’t be afraid to say so and find another provider. However, you ideally need to do this prior to entering into the IVA and before repayments start.