Friday April 25 (lunchtime): fax quote specification for an investment bond to Sun Life, naming the particular fund to which the money is to be allocated.
Monday April 28: No sign of illustration.
Tuesday April 29: No sign of illustration. Phone Sun Life to ask why. No one knows anything about it. Fax specification again with a request that the illustration be delivered by hand that day as our office is only four miles from our local Sun Life branch. Illustration eventually arrives some time after 5pm – too late to be of any use that day.
Wednesday, April 30: Check illustration and find error. Key features' document is missing. Phone Sun Life. Person who produced quote is mysteriously unavailable. Somebody else promises to email key features document within 10 minutes so I can issue illustration that day (with apologies to client for the error and a promise that the correct one will follow in a day or two). Forty minutes later, here I am writing this letter.
We were recently informed of the death of one of our clients, who had a life insurance policy with Norwich Union.We called NU, requesting the relevant forms for completion. Its turn-round time to issue such material is typically five to 10 working days.
With providers in this sort of state, who needs the Treasury to bludgeon the IFA sector to death? Scary, isn't it?
In the meantime, many IFAs must be tearing out their hair at Prudential's unrepentant intransigence in response to calls for it to stand by the premium rates on which its quotations were based for thousands of applications in its (very long and slowing moving) pipeline.
If ever there was a situation on which the FSA should intervene in the interests of consumer protection, about which it seems constantly yet vacuously to pontificate, then this must surely be it. What chance, I wonder?
Julian Stevens Partner, WDS Independent Financial Advisers,Kingswood,Bristol