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Call-centre chaos is going to get worse

So Direct Line Life & Pensions is thinking about following a long line of competitors who have relocated their UK call centres to India.

Everyone, but everyone seems to have a nightmare story to tell about their dealings with call-centre staff in this country. The average IFA will probably bore you silly with a series of banging-their-head-against-the-wall experiences.

Why the problems? Well, the approach to training seems to be very regimented. There are systems, scripts, procedures, flowcharts…you name it and they have got it, except experience, discretion, initiative, judgement and common sense.

Ask the average operative a question which fits the system and no problem but, and it&#39s a big but, try asking a non-standard question that does not fit the system and see what happens.

Either you get meaningless waffle or the dreaded “We&#39ll get right back to you.” But don&#39t hold your breath.

Now overlay this problem with major cultural differences and coping with a second language full of jargon and colloquial expressions and where does this leave the average caller? (And this is from someone who is ardently anti-racist).

Is this trend in the interests of investor protection? What exactly are the guardians of investor protection, the FSA, doing about this? They seem to be scarily quiet on the subject. Are they actively monitoring the competencies of these overseas operatives, or merely relying on the N2-based regulations covering front and back-office staff? Are sufficient checks in place to ensure that customer service is protected?

Is it a case of proactively investigating the impact this trend is having on training and competence issues or is the FSA&#39s chief locksmith merely going to fiddle with the stable door after the Indian horse has bolted?

Michael Lindsey

Linslade, Leighton Buzzard


Christows put ETFs in funds of funds

Christows has converted three offshore funds of investment trusts to onshore funds of funds that invest mainly in exchange traded funds (ETFs). David Franklin managed the three offshore funds and will now run the onshore funds, which are aimed at the IFA market. As well as ETFs, Franklin will also hold investment funds and quoted […]

Rights and wrongs

There is no doubt that the Financial Services and Markets Act gives the FSA strong powers. Whether those powers are so Draconian that the European Court decides they breach the IFA&#39s human rights can only be tested by legal challenge.If FSMA is overturned, the way that the IFA works would be changed for ever -no […]

Saturn winging in to calm the PI storm

With Capricorn rising in the new moon I foresee a number of dramatic interplanetary changes in 2004. Thursdays will be especially lucky next year for no particular reason.Saturn will move in to the Seventh House, offering stability and security to journalists who can feel confident they will eventually recover from the endless December boozing.A look […]

FSA thwarts cherrypicking with new data rules for ads

The FSA is imposing rules to standardise the presentation of fund data in a bid to prevent groups cherrypicking favourable time periods when displaying past performance in advertising.The rules, which were exclusively revealed in their proposed form in Money Marketing last March, insist that past performance is accompanied by a table showing five-year discrete annual […]


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