How do I find a missing policy?
ID NUMBER SUFFICIENT TO START
Question: My late father took out a policy/ investment/set up a trust fund of some sort in my name several years ago. At the time I was a minor. I don’t know any details about it. Is there anyway I can find out if there is actually something in my name? If so, how do I access it? There is definitely a way to access information on this policy. Many brokerages are required by law to get what is known as a Policy Authorisation Letter or (Broker Authorisation Note – terminology differs from company to company) from clients, whereby a client provides their ID number and signs a letter giving said brokerage the authority to access any information with most financial service providers.
Authorisation letters can also provide policy numbers, to speed up the process, but in the reader’s case, an ID number would be sufficient to head in the right direction.
In the past, most clients would provide the advisor or brokerage with the information of where the policy or investment was located, and it was as simple as e-mailing the company and getting a statement.
The industry has since evolved and one of the most prominent tools currently available to use – to get a holistic report of a client’s portfolio – is through a platform known as Astute. Astute assists brokerages by allowing them to query a client’s ID number, and return basic policy information from all of the companies that are registered with Astute. Some notable companies that allow for information to be shared are Liberty, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Allan Gray and Stanlib, to name a few.
In some cases, a brokerage pays an annual fee, and pays for each individual query.
Astute also ensures that all brokerages are compliant in terms of financial legislation, and requests that the authority notes are sent to them, by means of a basic audit. This is done by selecting the individual requests at random, and brokerages have a limited time to provide a signed authority note to Astute, to ensure compliance, and to reduce any unauthorised policy requests. Failure to produce an authority letter can not only result in the account being suspended, but also hefty fines and suspension of a practice’s licence, in terms of legislation.
Once the brokerage has identified where the policy is, they can then assist the client to make a withdrawal, as is the case with the reader’s question.
If Astute is unable to pick up any information, then it will be very difficult to find out where the investment is, but a quick Google search does show a few other websites that provide a similar service. Caution is recommended, especially when providing personal information, so always look out for a brokerage that is fully licensed in terms of the FAIS Act.