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Fact-find not needed for generalities

I think Filip Slipaczek’s letter is really quite silly. Of course, one can give generic advice without having to have a full fact-find because otherwise someone trying you out on the phone to see whether or not they might like to become a client will have no idea what knowledge one has.

It is absurd to say that a chartered professional would not act in such a manner. Recently, I rang one of the top firms of lawyers in Portsmouth over a matter relating to employment and pensions and he gave me about 15 minutes of his time with a very in-depth and complicated answer without any kind of letter of engagement, nor did he send a bill.

I was enormously impressed. It simply is not the case that professional people will not give advice and, indeed, they should do so.

I am always delighted to help people out and, if it happens to be a member of the FSA, obviously we only ever do everything according to the books. We never give specific advice without a fact-find but one can at least talk in general terms and explain qualifications and so on.

For instance, one can explain the mechanics of drawdown without having to say whether or not it is specific to the client. Obviously, a very complicated fact-find would be needed but, without explaining drawdown, the client would have no idea about it. It might well be that it is totally unsuitable and he can dismiss it at that point.

It is sad to think that Mr Slipaczek has used his method for more than a decade. As he has turned people away, how does he know that it works?

Many of us are not in the slightest degree sales-orientated and, indeed, will give advice on building societies, premium bonds and so on, without any reward whatsoever, bearing in mind that it is the long-term business relationship which is important – which is one thing on which we do agree.

On another matter, I was astonished to read the article by Fiona Sharp stating that, first, she did not know how to get paid the first time she did a large case (I would have thought that was the most important thing to get in place) but much more amazed that she and several firms in Cambridge have got together and agreed the same hourly rate for divorce work and that they are not in competition with each other.

I am surprised about this, particularly as on the same page you have criticisms of a banking and life insurance cartel.

What they are doing could appear to be against the Competition Act and Article 81 of the EC Treaty.

In Bognor Regis, we have healthy competition although we help each other out with matters that we do not deal with. In fact, I recently gained a case by charging half what the previous IFA was charging as he seemed to have gone over the top.

BGW Jamieson

Principal, Jamieson Financial Management, Bognor Regis, West Sussex


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