I want to tell you a story, in fact, three stories, about:
A lady who lives in London. She is 76 and has nobody to pay her life insurance premiums to.
A man who lives in Lincoln, is 84 and has been told that he cannot pay his premiums to his wife's savings plan.
Mike, who lives in Tring, Hertfordshire, who in 2002 received a letter telling him that his endowment, which matures in 2012, will have a £1,900 loss in maturity value. Last year, a letter told him he would only have a deficit of £300.
The elderly and impoverished in our society are being robbed of their ability to stand tall and say they have looked after themselves. The Pearl is the latest company to withdraw its home-service agents.
The lady in London is told she must put her money to one side and, when somebody is available, they will collect the premiums on her policies. The whole reason she took out the policies with the Prudential is because she cannot physically rely on herself to put money to one side each week, unless she gives it to somebody to put away for her. There are hundreds of thousands of people like her.
Wesleyan was one of the first to withdraw its salesforce. That has now affected the Lincolnshire man, who has been given two options, neither of which, at 84, he understands. He paid his premiums annually. He does not like banks. He has always trusted his money to the Wesleyan and, believe it or not, it has always done him very well. People used to call to collect his premiums, even in his remote rural village. They call no more. Direct debits are not an option.
The FSA has seen to that. The legacy that has come from Andrew Large and Colette Bowe through Sir Howard Davies to destroy the savings infrastructure of the UK for those least able to save and most in need of personal relationships, trust and service is misguided and irrational. John Tiner continues to pontificate, as do his subordinates, and now, in the wake of the loss of the home-service industry, they are set to destroy the infrastructure for small IFAs.
The gentleman from Tring, had he complained about his endowment, would probably have got compensation. Yet what these two letters show is that forward projections are totally unreliable and merely reflect the vagaries of a market that moves up and down.
Davies should not be going to the London School of Economics because it is obvious that economics is something he knows very little about. Perhaps if he spoke to the 76-year-old lady in London, who is bedridden, and the 84-year-old man in Lincolnshire, whose wife is in hospital, and Michael in Tring, he would learn just how much unnecessary suffering, despair and concern he is bringing to a nation that 12 years ago had a savings culture that was the envy of the world and a financial services industry to match.
It is about time these parasites on society went and got a proper job and left those of us who know how to serve the public by delivering warmth, comfort and financial support when things go wrong, to get on with our job in the way we have been doing for over 200 years with a great deal of success.
What is happening to these three people is shameful. What is more tragic is that you can multiply their number by a million times.
Terence P O'Halloran,
O'Halloran & Co, Lincoln