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Alan Lakey: The internet is filled with know-it-alls

I frequently meet people who think they know best. Some of them know what’s best for their clients and others what’s best for themselves. Then there’s a herd that knows what’s best for everybody else.

But rather than going into public service or the church, many of these individuals focus their energies on posting their insights online.

Like the FSA, these people “know” the best charging structure and the best remuner­ation method. They know the most propitious method of obtaining and retaining clients. They also know the most suitable invest­ments and analytical methodologies, tactical tilting or otherwise.

More importantly, they know where others are going wrong and are mercurially swift to correct any miscreants.

These intuitive and gifted individuals are quick to emerge from beneath creaking floorboards and skeins of cobwebs when they scent a disadvantaged prey.

My recent contretemps with Abbey for Intermediaries underscored this industry trait wonderfully.

Self-appointed experts, character assassins, writers of books, pontificators, charla­tans and the downright bad and nasty all emerged to give their tuppence-worth. Posts full of snorting indignation, vitriol and psycho­logical guid­ance sat alongside messages of support and calls for balance. To be reviled, targeted and abused is a strange experience. Indeed, now I know how Nic Cicutti must feel.

Nevertheless, unlike Nic I am not paid fees to write columns. Back in 2007 I was asked to submit a fortnightly piece, essentially to balance what was fast becoming a blanket of pro-RDR propaganda.

Some snipers suggest I write to massage my ego. Others think somehow it benefits me financially or psychologically. One mooncalf opted to sneer at the CIExpert website, possibly in the belief that his opinion carried greater weight than an acorn husk.

Regardless, anybody who actually knows me, and the majority of readers and posters do not, will quickly confirm that I say what I believe and fight for fairness and balance, partly because so few others can be bothered. That will not change.


While on the subject of futility, I recently received a letter from Scottish Provident, a company that until 2001 was well respected as a critical illness provider.

The letter, sent to me as the adviser, explained that my client – which was me – had moved and asked for an updated address. This was provided and Scottish Provident subsequently wrote to my home address explaining that, to update the address, they needed proof that I actually lived there.

I responded with the suggestion that the very fact I was replying should act as a balm for their concerns.

Apparently not. To officially change my address they require sight of some utility bill or whatever.

My final missive suggested that their understanding of the Data Protection Act was seriously flawed, my responses to their letters provided adequate proof and, frankly, if they chose not to update my address I couldn’t give a ….

The matter currently rests there. No doubt more time-wasting will ensue.

One day, when society looks back at the madness of misguided consumer protection and the crock of well-meaning but disastrous legislation that has characterised the past 15 years, it may well ask itself how any outcome was ever achieved when even the simplest task was thwarted by idiotic interpretations of bad laws.

Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Services


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There are 18 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Isnt there a saying about that those that can do and those that cant teach.

    Sums up those who who work in public service (i include the FSA despite their claims to be independent) and like to to private businesses how they should operate never actually having worked at the coalface themselves.

  2. “whilst on the subject of futility…”

    Surely that would be a reference ta Advisor Alliance trying to prevent RDR? It was clear 4 years ago it was a done deal. Some individuals spent so much time arguing the toss, they left no time to pass the exams. And needlessly must now quit their jobs. Now that’s futile!

  3. Is fighting for what is right ever considered futile?

  4. Incompetent Regulators Award Team 20th December 2012 at 10:41 am

    How true Alan.

    This country is now run by beaurocrats who know nothing of the real world and listen to the drivel written by the likes of Cicutti. Parasites adding no value and stifling the profit making private sector wealth creators.

    Change the FSA’s role to regulating the press and see how they like it. The tunes would soon change!

  5. Im all right Jack 20th December 2012 at 11:54 am

    Where there is no conflict there is no interest

  6. Well said Alan. You may not be paid for your column but we appreciate you standing up for injustice and at least trying to bring sense to it all. With regard to fellow column writer Nic C, he is the complete reverse of you with no regard or concern for the Advisor of the provision of excellent financial advice to ‘ordinary’ people.

  7. Alan, keep up the good work and dont let them grind you down!

  8. Alan is the only bloke bar a few who actually seems to know what it is like if you A) Don’t have clients with money to burn B) Live in London & surrounding Leafy suburbs in & around London / Surrey etc (or equivalent as us ‘normal’ IFA’S dealing with mainly middle income clients who can’t hope to compete on £100 per hour rates when they are on about £10 per hour! Sometimes as a ‘one man band feels like 300 Spartans & only 10 Spartans left!

  9. I for one appreciate your efforts Big Al.

    And don’t let the b*ggers get you down!

  10. I hear BBC are looking to make a new series of One Foot in the Grave, Alan should definitely put himself forward as the new Victor Meldrew!

    What’s that Abbey do not want to do business with me??!!! I DONT BELIEVE IT!

  11. Alan.

    I share your pain and even worse the frustration I feel that the tick box brigade have been elevated way beyond description fills me full of dread going forward because I instinctively know it’s not going to get any better in the long or short term. The guy that produced the business used to be revered in this industry now we’re thought of someone to apply risk management principles to. Experience counts for nothing, what you’ve achieved in the past counts for nothing but it’s inexperienced wet behind the ear graduates who are the new king of the hill. They know it all but actually know very little and make decisions that affect all of us, cost hundreds of advisers their careers, earnings and much grief You couldn’t make it up. As for “Indeed, now I know how Nic Cicutti must feel.” Naa, he’s just a professional agitator. Don’t compare yourself with him.

  12. Michael Wainwright, ex Compliance Consultant 20th December 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I have known you a long time Alan. I have sat in your office and learnt from you and you have helped some of my clients (ex, as I have now retired). It pains me that you have found the need to write this article. We should all support those who are prepared to speak up in the way that you do, without fear of the potential consequences.

  13. I find this article really interesting. First off, Alan. I often read your articles with interest, as I do other article posted online, and sometimes I agree with your sentiment/what you’re writing about and sometimes there are elements of it that I don’t necessarily agree with. Irrespective, I still have an opinion – my opinion – and as part of an online community, I’m entitled to share that.

    Saying that, I also believe this. People should really only share their views if those views are founded in fact. A wishy-washy, unfounded opinion that has no real element of truth is simply wrong . But then again, without people like this existing, we wouldn’t have so much gossip going around. Then how dull would the world be 😉

    The world we live in has fundamentally changed. Anyone who writes a blog expects comments on that blog. Good and bad.

    It doesn’t mean that if the comments are bad or go against the writers beliefs that you have to write another article to defend yourself. If your articles are written with integrity and good-meaning then that should be enough to let you sleep well at night.

  14. “Then there’s a herd that knows what’s best for everybody else.”

    Subtle, Alan. 😉

  15. People like Alan know what’s going on in financial services. What is also going on is massive public ignorance about what is going on. Some of the injustices that are occurring now will be sorted out in time because justice has a habit of reasserting itself. And when that happens people will realise that people like Alan were telling it how it is.

  16. Hilarious!

    The man with an opinion on everything doesn’t like others having an opinion on the same issues!


  17. @ My Side Hurts

    I imagine he is talking about people with opinions but no nous. People with vindicitive natures and a need for posturing. People who hide behind anonymity.

    In fact, people like you.

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