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Broker

Yes “Although, effectively, the client has sacked the adviser because, if property is the only asset in the portfolio, the client is choosing not to take our advice. If I tell you not to drink poison and you do it, that’s your fault.”

Stephen Tucker, Wilfred T FryNo “It is never as simple as that. Our role is to give the best advice possible and you have to look at each client individually, weighing up the situation as best as possible. The clients that I have genu- inely value the benefits of advice and we would hesitate to advise a client to use their whole pension fund in this manner.”

Harvey Lewis, Harvey Jones Financial ServicesNo “I disagree with that. I think each client will need to be reviewed on an individual basis. You cannot generalise.”

Dean Moore, Jupiter Financial ServicesNo “You work according to the client’s wishes. You can give them the advice but they do not have to take it. You cannot just get rid of a client on that basis because you may have other business with them.”

Mark Bailes, Kingfisher FinanceNo “Within 12 to 24 months of having invested in property, they are likely to be looking to reinvest and consequently need advice.”

David Mayer, Deloitte & Touche Private ClientsNo “There are advantages of an asset that has potential for growth, with the tax advantages of a Sipp.”

Steve Baker, AJ Independent Financial AdviceNo “It very much depends on the individual. One must exercise a degree of caution and not jump on the bandwagon but sometimes it is appropriate. We must point out the pros and cons and leave the client to make their own decision, while covering our own back.”

Jonathan Plant, First Service FinancialNo “You should not dump clients but you should advise against it.”

Mike Leech, M D Leech Life & Pensions Having seen various articles on the FSA’s Treating Customers Fairly initiative, I would like to make some comments but first an observation. Customers are people who go into a shop and buy items with a minimum of advice. We advise clients, who have a long-term relationship with us and do not pop in to buy a quick piece of insurance cover. When will the FSA start calling them our clients?

I now come to Treating “Clients” Fairly and have to ask if this initiative has missed the point and yet again targeted the IFA unnecessarily. Here are some examples.

When the FSA drove home the pension review, had it conveniently not occurred to it that the advice being given was in line with regulations at the time and that the Government of the day also promoted people moving from occupational schemes of personal pensions for flexibility? Although I fortunately had no involvement in any cases, I think the whole review was a scandal in the way it made advisers pander to the public.

There appears to be no redress if the FSA imposes a decision on an adviser. Why not? The FSA is not infallible.

There is no responsibility taken by the FSA when it imposes retrospective regulation and fines, the result of which is to increase our PI cover by extortionate amounts. It is not the PI insurers’ fault. They do not know how to evaluate the risk any more because of retrospection. The FSA just sits there and lets it happen.

Insurance companies have had constraints imposed on the construction of their with-profits funds, so that they sold equities at the most disadvantageous time on instruction from the FSA. This has caused significant lost performance, which could have reduced some of the losses suffered by clients. Naturally, the FSA states it is not responsible but, in fact, it is.

I now come to one of the most outrageous decisions ever concocted by bureaucratic regulators, among which I include the Treasury and the Government – the creation of multi-tied agents. This was done supposedly to give the client more choice but we all know it was pushed through based on the erroneous premise that polarisation was anti-competitive.

Any IFA can give innumerable examples where they have rebroked insurance cover of many varieties for clients, which was originally sold by a bank or building society and where the premiums were unbelieveably overpriced. We had a situation where tied and independent advisers were understood very clearly by the public. Multi-ties have now been brought in at the behest of the banks and building societies. It was a reward for going along with stakeholder – yet another initiative which is promoted as a success but patently is not. This will transpire to be very detrimental to the public in the fullness of time.

So, when the FSA talks about Treating “Customers” Fairly, for heaven’s sake why doesn’t it start in its own back yard and stop bringing out initiatives which plainly are more about finding yet more tasks to keep them employed than with concern about us or the public?

How naive can you be? I have only just found out that Treating Customers Fairly does not mean the FSA is undertaking a serious review of all its activities so that it can make sure it always treats me fairly in future.

I have now discovered, fool that I was, that it means the FSA is accusing me of not treating my customers fairly, despite the obvious and indisputable fact that they persist in staying loyal and keep giving me new business, year after year after year. What does that tell you about treating customers fairly?

The fact of the matter is that no less a person than the Prime Minister has stated that the FSA is “hugely inhibiting of efficient business by perfectly respectable companies”. It is now obvious to us all that the FSA is not treating him, or us, fairly.

So I have got two mess- ages for Callum McCarthy:

l Don’t give me and my fellow IFAs any more of your useless nonsense until I am satisfied that you have reformed enough to treat me fairly.

l People who live in glasshouses, etc.

Financial advisers will be able to do nothing for clients to mitigate yet another stealth tax if the Government’s proposed ID cards are introduced.

Recent research from the London School of Economics suggests that these could cost anything up to £300 and be valid for just five years for some people. The cost for businesses in our industry is bound to multiply.

With the Government claiming that its computer will be 100 per cent secure, can anyone doubt that the powers-that-be will very quickly decide to make use of the card compulsory as a means of proving identity? Such a move would be more than just another row on the anti-money laundering form.

The authenticity of any card will be confirmed by accessing a huge new database containing a file on all of us. The Home Office estimates that the proposed card readers will cost at least £250 each. So, how many of these card readers should there be in each branch? If you are seeing people at home, no doubt you will need a mobile version. There is no estimate of the cost of that one yet.

In recent Home Office trials, genuine ID cards failed to be authenticated 20 per cent of the time. That could mean one in five applications will not proceed because you cannot validate your client’s identity.

After the recent terrorist outrages in London, even Home Secretary Charles Clarke admitted that ID cards will do nothing to prevent terrorism or, indeed, any other violent crime. Perhaps it is time to put a stop to the New Labour control freaks?

One of the perils of spending some of my weekdays working from home is coping with unexpected callers. I like to think of myself as a tolerant person but every now and again the plot gets lost, as witnessed by this conversation the other day.

Caller: “Hello, how are you?”

Me: “Grunt.” (I do not recognise the lady and my mind is swimming in the new pension simplification rules).

Caller: “I have come to tell you about the Bible.”

Me: “Can I see some identification please?”

Caller: “Sorry?”

Me: “Well, I need to see your identification so that I know who I am talking to.”

Caller: “Well, er, I don’t exactly have any.”

Me: “You mean you are making an unsolicited sales call without any official identification?”

Caller: “Well, I am not actually selling anything.” Me: ” Well, who do you represent?”

Caller: “Sorry?”

Me: “So, not only is your call unsolicited but you are not even sure who you represent.”

Caller: “Um, well, I suppose I am representing God’s word.”

Me: “Whose word?”

Caller: “God’s.”

Me: “Can I have a key features document summarising the main benefits and risks of His word?”

Caller: “Pardon?”

Me: “Well, if I agree with His word, do I get a cooling-off period if I change my mind later?”

Caller: “I beg your pardon?”

Me: “I am not happy about this at all. Can I have His address?”

Caller: “Whose address?”

Me: “God’s.”

Caller: “Sorry?”

Me: “Well, I need to know who to write to when I complain.”

Caller: (Pause for thought).

Me: “So what’s His address?”

Caller: (Complete baffled look on face…)

Me: (Fun over) “Well, don’t let it happen again. Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

Caller left on doorstep to rethink her objection handling techniques.

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