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IFAs work against inept providers

So, more sanctimonious twaddle. Providers and distributors should work together to prevent future detriment to customers.

If the regulator was in touch with reality, they might realise that most IFAs work against providers – especially life insurers – in the best interests of their clients. Their standard of service and administrative competence makes a North Korean supermarket look good. What sanctions do we have to improve their offering? None. If you work with someone, there has to be mutual respect, competence and equality. This is not (and never will be) the case. Most IFAs regard the life companies as complete idiots. Admittedly there are a very few honourable and notable exceptions.

Just to take one small example, a complaint often levelled is that IFAs do not investigate the open market option for vesting clients.

As it happens, we do as a matter of course. The process cannot be considered “a breeze” but then one has to be prepared to work for the money.

It is the astonishing and incomprehensible delays in receiving the funds from the ceding company that could do with some investigation, not to mention the often less than speedy processing by the receiving firm.

These delays do immeasurable harm to the public’s perception of life insurers. “You took our money quickly enough over the last 15/20/25 years. Now we want our benefits, you are not exactly showing the same enthusiasm” and who can blame the customer for saying that, particularly after having received half a forest of paper reminding them that they have now reached retirement age?

This whole new thrust by the FSA is again a very good idea in principle but it just will not work in practice. I do not want some wet behind the ears clerk questioning me as to what I am doing. That is why I am regulated and pay PII.

At the same time, I cannot count the number of times I have written to the regulator – be it the FSA,PIA or Fimbra – complaining about the more outrageous practices of a life company, only to be told it is without their jurisdiction.

The FSA tells us that if a distributor is not clear about a provider’s product, they should question the provider. Oh, please. Much easier – don’t touch it with a bargepole, it is a far more effective solution.

I am afraid these new pronouncements from the Canaries only serve to illustrate how out of touch they are with the realities faced by IFAs. It is no good talking to the network chiefs and the likes of Millfield and BBB (who are here today and gone tomorrow). Talk to the men and women who actually do the work.

Harry Katz

Norwest Consultants

Stanmore, Middx

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