I, for one, am not remotely convinced by Norwich Union's bland and tired old claim that cutting another 950 jobs will help them “to ensure the company continues its drive for efficiency”.
We have seen and heard it all before, not least in the wake of the closure of Norwich Union's Cheadle Hulme office.
Like most IFA firms, we detest huge, faceless admin factories staffed by anonymous people who avoid all efforts to get them to take responsibility for seeing a job or problem through to a satisfactory conclusion. Cheadle Hulme was, though, one of the better factories. As factories go,it was tolerable to do business with.
Then it was axed, with its workload pushed on to Norwich Union's Sheffield and York counterparts which have clearly been unable to cope.
Nowadays, Norwich Union is about as bad to try to do business with as any of the other traditional life offices – that is, dreadful.
We recently lost a client and her business as a result of repeated failures on the part of NU to set up a new direct-debit mandate for her life insurance policy. The client had sent them no less than three new direct-debit mandates, each of which was either lost or in some other way messed up.
There is a point beyond which driving down costs and raising efficiency cease to correlate positively.
NU has already passed that point. All that axing a further 950 jobs will achieve is further damage to its already parlous standards of service and administration.
The same is happening with all the other traditional with-profits life offices.
Colin Fogwill's letter, in which he states that his firm does not use insurance companies' funds and only their bond products where trust planning is part of the equation, merely serves to confirm this view, albeit from a slightly different perspective.