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I rest my case

I had intended to write about trust, looking at Aifa’s recent document on how to rebuild the public’s trust in financial services institutions.

I still aim to discuss that issue next week but I hope Money Marketing’s editor will allow me this one last indulgence as I respond to Alan Lakey’s attack on my comments about him and the IFA Defence Union, of which he is such a stalwart member.

It is worth noting in passing that while he refers to the many “inaccuracies” in my recent column, Alan fails to point out a single one – and then conveniently ignores any of the points I make.

More significantly, Alan criticises me for daring to comment on the published outcome of a Court of Appeal ruling against a firm of advisers, confirming a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service to pay one of its clients £100,000 compensation over the alleged mis-transfer of an occupational pension into a section 32 scheme.

This is portrayed by him as a campaign of persecution against a plucky little firm of IFAs with “the courage to fight and attempt to expose the fundamental unfairness of the FOS processes”.

Many advisers mishandle advice to clients from time to time and unless the advice given was extraordinarily bad or it affected not just one or two but scores or even hundreds of clients, I have rarely commented on such matters.

The reason I focused on this issue is that this case has been elevated into a cause celebree by the IFADU and its hangers-on. In doing so, they have legitimised the right, in fact the duty, of every journalist to look at the case and see whether their argument has any merit.

Alan now appears to have read the Appeal Court judgment in question. But he claims that because, unlike him, I did not actually speak to the IFAs concerned, somehow I should not comment on the issue.

This firm spent several years in dispute with one of its clients and the FOS over a ruling that it eventually lost, culminating in a Court of Appeal hearing.

The Appeal Court then reviewed all the evidence and handed out its judgment against the advisers.

Yet Alan somehow believes talking to the advisers makes all the difference in terms of whether a journalist is allowed to write on this subject.

Alan describes me as playing “an acceptable role as a small cog in the mechanism of checks and balances”. I prefer to think of myself as a journalist, paid to write about issues in the financial services industry.

In the course of that work, I inevitably rub some people up the wrong way and may well be held in “low esteem by many advisers” as a result, – although the many supportive emails received in recent weeks from IFAs suggest that the numbers who do so are far smaller than he believes.

But if he means that is how I am viewed by the IFA Defence Union and its cronies, then it is a badge that I wear with pride.

Finally, although he has every right to quote whoever he sees fit, I really think Alan ought to allow poor Oscar Wilde to rest in peace in the Pere Lachaise.

Repeatedly quoting others in order to insult your opponents only serves to underline the extremely thin intellectual veneer of your argument.

Besides, as the 18th century French artist Joseph Roux once said: “A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a witty person, but a pebble in the hands of a fool.” And yes, that’s a J.O.K.E.

Nic Cicutti can be contacted at nic@inspiredmoney.co.uk

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