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Call centre rebroking Legal & General policies slammed by advisers

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Brokers warn their clients are being put at risk from call centre sales teams poaching their life insurance customers and rebroking cheaper policies with less cover.

Intermediaries add that these substitute policies often cover fewer illnesses, are not understood by customers and can have features that cannot be claimed on.

Four brokers have told Money Marketing sister title Mortgage Strategy that they have had clients cold-called in this way since December 2016.

London Money and MOV8 Financial both tell Mortgage Strategy that their life insurance clients have been contacted by the Financial Assessment Centre and The Review Bureau, both based in the same Swansea office.

TRB is an appointed representative of Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services and FAC is a trading name of Andrew Robert Collier, also a Hayden Williams AR.

Brokers say affected clients are encouraged to move to cheaper Legal & General policies. Mortgage Strategy is unaware of other lenders being involved.

Clients believe they are speaking directly to L&G, not a third party.

London Money mortgage & protection consultant Cathy Beaumont says in March FAC persuaded her client to rebroke their existing L&G policy with another from the same lender and save £3 a month.

However, Beaumont says the new policy was sold to the client on the basis of being cheaper but also had reduced cover, potentially leaving the client at risk.

FAC also told the client their new policy had a feature that meant they would not have to pay inheritance tax. However, the customer was not eligible to pay this as a first-time buyer with an estate worth less than £325,000.

Beaumont says: “One, they’ve cold-called the client. Two, they’ve potentially put them at risk.

Three, they’re selling them something they didn’t need in the first place and that my clients didn’t understand what they were talking about.”

MOV8 Financial director Robin Purdie said he lost two life insurance clients to TRC when they offered cheaper L&G policies.

Coincidentally, Purdie adds TRC also cold-called him with the same offer as a life insurance customer.

On the call, Purdie says he “clearly stated” he had a good policy that included critical illness cover, but that the TRC caller “plowed on on the basis of cost and nothing more”.

Purdie says: “When we are discussing protection with a client and they have critical illness cover already in place, that’s not to say we won’t recommend a replacement, but we will do a strenuous analysis of the conditions.”

Purdie adds that clients could lose out from the different policies, and that MOV8 has had commission clawed back due to the rebroking.

He says: “As galling as it is that these companies are actually doing this and what it means for us as advisers, that we potentially lose a bit of remuneration, or worse than that, lose the clients going forward, it’s the potential implication for the client.”

Purdie said it was “potentially catastrophic” that no one from the ARs asked him or his clients about their medical conditions before recommending critical illness cover, as clients could be buying unsuitable policies.

Mortgage Advice Bureau mortgage & protection adviser Daniel Clayton says he has also had clients approached by a call centre that were encouraged to rebroke onto L&G policies that covered fewer illnesses.

He said one client went from a policy covering around 100 illnesses to “an inferior product”, one protecting from around 40.

He says: “We wouldn’t be able to do that, because you’d be recommending a policy you’d be less likely to be able to claim on. It’s frustrating.”

Monica Bradley Associates financial consultant Phil Leivesley says FAC has also contacted some of his clients and encouraged them to take out cheaper L&G policies in January.

He says: “There’s a very noisy office in the background, it’s a call centre. Frankly we were able to rescue the policies, though we never really got to the bottom of it.”

An L&G spokesman says Hayden Williams has an agency to write its protection business, and adds: “Hayden Williams IFS Ltd assumes full regulatory responsibility for any advice and operating procedures for TFAC or The Review Bureau.”

TRC says: “Our obligation as an appointed representative is to ensure that our engagement with clients comply with the treating customers fairly principle and to ensure that any transactions we facilitate are in the client’s best interest and meets the client’s demands and needs in accordance to the FCA’s Insurance: Conduct of Business Sourcebook.”

Hayden Williams declined to comment. FAC did not respond to requests for comment.

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Comments

  1. If it is offering only Vanguard funds and only a limited range of products, that doesn’t include Pensions, then surely it really cannot be called a “platform”?

    Well done to Vanguard for jumping on the price is king bandwagon with very astute timing!

    If only we could muster the same press and media coverage for the many inadequacies and poor customer outcomes in some of the regulatory areas that we all see on a day to day basis!

  2. Even when you were the original broker for a policy, replacing existing cover based on cost alone is highly risky for the consumer where CIC is involved. Pre 2003 CI conditions for claim were more lenient and premiums for equivalent cover lower. Premiums for the same thing went up 1/3rd over night in 2003 even for plans that were in underwriting (Prudential for instance), so replacing a plan may be reducing cover (testicular cancer was covered on pre 2003, but isn’t on post 2003 plans as it is treatable, usually by removal of a testical) .
    Other risks include partial or inadvertent no disclosure on the replaced plan, which means someone who might have bee convered on their own plan, might find that whilst it was innocent and hence the provider will often refund premiums when a claim arises, they will NOT pay out on claim if it turns out something was innocently missed, but would have resulted in a decline of cover completely. I’ve seen it before with a client who didn’t disclose his alcahol consumption accurately (would have been declined CIC) and replaced a CIC plan with a new one with a different provider and the “DT”s of his alcohol abuse was masking early onset MS. Provider refunded all premiums, but didn’t pay out the claim (correctly), but he couldn’t go back to the insurer whose plan he had lapsed as it was not their problem.
    Not a nice situation for anyone and a good lesson of taking EXTRA care with replacing a CIC plan just on premium alone.

  3. Richard Smith 17th May 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Perfect. See old DH has come in with some negs as always, and the others “limited appeal” come on guys, this sets the market alight. You’ve all had it to good for far to long. Vanguard is just the start. Only be 10,000 of you left soon and then the consumer will finally get access to some reasonable priced products from a major player… makes fist, points it skywards and shouts ‘get in’.

  4. Direct to customer cutting out advisers is good for competition, and given Vangaurds charges good for reducing huge fees often charged by advisers selling index tracking funds or passive funds or as I refer to it “Partial Advice”. Client outcomes does not come into D2C from Insurance companies or through Banks and now the market place is awash old fashioned interfering and intermeddling of “advice” which is neither controlled nor simple – by lazy slovenly Product Providers as Principals – who are in breach of the Statutory Duty of Care under the Law of Agency. Just like Endowments and Pensions and PPI – with the FCA as agent for the Government and their restrictive trade practices – to controlling and diverting payments into the Treasury – as The Big Business Tax – for small adviser firms. It is easy to see why advisers are charging huge fees – for the few clients – leaving the market open for Vanguard and other less attractive index trackers – to grab customers money Charge for it ) then sell on their business ( clients and all ). Just like Mortgages, entire Banks, failed life assurance companies ( a lot of them Scottish amicable – Equitable – mutual Widows ) and the unsustainable financial institutions, who are not committed to looking after clients – because they are commercial bankers – driven by greed and targets – and the silly old sods at the FCA appear to be ignorant of these facts. Van Guard your loins – Vanguard a great company to do business with in my opinion. Good competition for the computerized trackers and other passives.

  5. Blue Eyed Monster 17th May 2017 at 5:03 pm

    @ Richard Smith
    Are you confusing fund managers and advisers?
    Advisers will be delighted to see some pressure on fund managers, but non advised direct sales of funds to the public only helps advisers .

    • Richard Smith 17th May 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Hmm. You are funny. Must have your wires crossed. You mean ‘hope’ it helps advisers – yeah and hope has got you to here. The advice industry is on it’s uppers. As evidenced by, well the evidence. It has so few left that it’s not of any consequence.

      The FCA have finally done what the original regulaters wanted to do in ’88 get rid of the troublesome bit. Shame but there it is. Good luck, you can push the back on the lid, but the likes of Vanguard have plenty more nails just waiting to be hammered home.

      The only survivors will be St James’s Place, well not for the quality of their product or advice but their perfect marketing and customer service skills. As I said, still got my ‘fist in the air’. Whoop Whoop.

  6. Richard Smith 17th May 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Obvs my reply was a bit contentious. Sorry admin!

    Not confused at all just a bit more realistic than much of the industry.

    With one adviser to about two million people in the UK and still advisers are shrinking, there must be a problem with the 1. Business model 2. The quality of advice/advisers. Key is the public have had enough and the direct guys like Vanguard have spotted it. They’ll keep putting nails in until you can’t push the lid off.

    There is a reason why passives make sense in the same way that the wealthy don’t invest in pensions. Advice is seems is poor mans affair. Good luck with your model, just can’t seen your future being based on the hope that investors in low risk passives will eventually turn to advisers and ask for forgiveness. The world has shifted far to much.

    Low charges, passives = money for nothing. Hand still punching the air ‘whoop whoop’ a Vanguard party down the local tonight.

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