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For IFAs, industry is like Cinderella and the ugly system

It&#39s the most wonderful time of the year – the pantomime season. I believe our industry has been performing in pantomime for some time. The curtain is up, the stage is set – bring on the players.

I say, I say, I say. Did you hear about the insurance company which failed to collect contributions over a 12-month period and reported the client to Opra? The money still sits in the bank account.

Did you hear about the insurance company which reported a client to Opra due to non-payment of premiums for a member who had left and for whom it had received written confirmation of his departure?

Did you hear about the customer liaison officer who failed to return a phone call on six separate occasions?”

Tell me more.

Did you hear about the insurance company which lost all the paperwork relating to a new group stakeholder scheme?

Did you hear about the broker consultant who was interested in leaving his final-salary pension scheme but was subject to a GN11 test (he had never been a controlling director)?

Did you hear about the broker consultant who offered to give up credit to secure a piece of business which equated to an additional 1 per cent allocation to an investment case of £500,000?

Finally, did you hear about the broker consultant who stood to earn in excess of a £10,000 bonus for securing one medium-sized group pension scheme?”

As somebody in the audience shouts: “Behind you!”, we as a profession look round to see Opra, the FSA, the Consumers&#39 Association and frustrated clients, not to mention the legal profession. As insurance companies look behind them, perhaps all they see is hungry shareholders.

Sadly, you may be thinking that I, together with other IFAs, should be treated like the Christmas turkey and dealt with in the traditional fashion. However, before you reach for the Paxo, remember we may be considered to be a different type of bird, that is, the goose which has and continues to lay a particular type of egg.

Perhaps thought may be given to the impact of N2. There is a clear audit trail which the FSA would wish to follow, particularly in the event of business being secured through professional sources. At what point does that trail meander towards the insurance company&#39s sales staff? Is anybody brave enough to consider the implications and have a proper open debate?

As I am finally struck off the last company&#39s Christmas card list (where the greeting is masked by an advert for the “1 per cent world”), the curtain is due to fall on my performance. But I feel the pantomime is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Chris Baton

Director,

Watson Laurie Group, Bolton

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