Former Edward Jones clients hit out at Towry transfer charges

Former Edward Jones clients are complaining that Towry has started applying transfer charges for those leaving the firm, although Towry insists the charges were always written into Edward Jones’ terms and conditions.

Money Marketing, Fund Strategy’s sister publication, revealed last month that disgruntled former Edward Jones clients had launched a petition calling on the government to force the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to take action after they faced delays of up to four months to transfer their funds away from the company.

John Simpson, the petition organizer of Treating Customers Shabbily, says Towry has now started to apply charges to transfer clients’ mutual funds to another provider when previously they have not. Towry charge £20 per fund or £57.50 for an Isa transfer.

“We do not make any money from the transfer process, let’s make that very clear”

He says: “Whilst Towry have, over the last few months, transferred millions of pounds of assets of other clients free of charge, we hear that during July Towry decided to introduce a charge to the remaining clients in the exit queue.

“This is despite previous public assurances by Towry staff that no fees, service charges or commissions would be taken from Towry clients while they were waiting to be transferred out.”

Peter Foster, the head of marketing at Towry, says the transfer charge was always written into the terms and conditions for Edward Jones clients, but the firm often did not implement the charge. (article continues below)

He says: “There was always a £20 charge per line of stock in Edward Jones’ terms and conditions. I do not know why Edward Jones didn’t charge it. We do not make any money from the transfer process, let’s make that very clear.”

Foster says Towry is waiving its transfer charges for clients that have experienced “extreme difficulties” re-registering their investments.

He says: “Where there are extreme difficulties with the transfer process we waive the transfer charges, but that is decided on a case by case basis.”

Today Towry announced it has cleared the backlog of account transfer requests from former Edward Jones clients.

Andrew Fisher, chief executive, says: “We have now cleared our backlog and are dealing with ongoing tasks associated with re-registration, working closely with platforms. However, because of the nature of the re-registration process, some assets may still take a little while to register with the new custodian. We can do nothing about this.”

“With hindsight, we certainly could have communicated better and reacted more quickly to what was an unanticipated problem that we encountered. Lessons have been learned and processes improved.

“I must reiterate that as soon as the technicalities of the problem became apparent, we ensured that additional dedicated resource was made available to resolve it. We accept that this has not been satisfactory to those clients wanting to close and transfer their account but can only restate that it was done as quickly as possible.”