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INDEPENDENT VIEW

I have just read a newspaper article about a mother who is petrified about her baby&#39s wellbeing. Not because she is a bad mother but because all the “experts” tell her that, whatever she does, however inn ocuous, it is putting her baby&#39s life at risk.

The latest scare for her was that kissing a child can poison them and may be a factor in cot deaths.

She has quite understandably decided to ignore all the “experts” and listen to her own mother and concentrate on being a “confident” parent.

On a similar tack, the latest proclamations from all and sundry about the recent poor weather highlights what little the experts know.

Everyone from political columnists to pukka weathermen quote complete opposites. I imagine these people are absolutely sure of their own “facts” before commenting but still the picture is blurred.

Who on earth are we meant to believe? More and more, we look to blame someone when it all goes pear-shaped. We assume they have some sort of foresight and therefore should have known better. We seem to think that, because they knew, they should have warned us.

Of course, the buck these days always seems to stop at the Government regardless of how accountable we should be as individuals. Buy a house in a flood plain and blame the Government when it floods. Why not buy one away from a river? Where is caveat emptor?

Who would want to govern these days? We seem to blame them if anything goes wrong. The tragic victims of CJD are a good example. “Experts” have suggested the origin of this condition dates back as far as the 1970s. As we don&#39t yet know the incubation period, we could all have it.

But would that give us the right to claim compensation?I read just this week that CJD has not increased – it is the successful diagnosis and wider reporting that gives the impression of an epidemic.

It is fairly clear for all to see that the people in charge at the time did everything they could, given what little information was to hand. So why do we now expect to blame someone if it was unavoidable? Is this not just the risk of living longer, as we all do? Go back a couple of hundred years and a fair old swathe of us would have died of complications due to impac ted wisdom teeth. But now that is all but vanished as a risk, why does the Government not demand a bonus from us?

Of course, this is all coming to a point. All the recent retrospective reviewing of business seems to be landing on the shoulders of current IFAs and not the Government for once.

Why is the buck not stopping at the Government like in all the other “scandals”? Why do we not blame cattle farmers for their once normal farming practices that turned out to be so disastrously wrong given hindsight? They even get compensation when it goes wrong.

One reason is that it is not their fault. They did not intentionally feed contaminants to their cattle. In exactly the same way advisers of phase-two-type business did not intentionally advise on transfers, that would (possibly not even) fall short of their “target”.

Why if it is not the fault of advisers are they expected to pick up the bill for changing economic circumstances?

You can argue black is white as in any debate these days, given enough statistics. But when you start to treat people differently, fairness starts to play a part. Thank fully, the handling of endowments seems a little better thought through. But just like my house is nowhere near a flood plain, I have kept my two endowments going, as I contracted to do when I effected them. I have had the sense to put aside all that “saved” interest I have been enjoying in the meantime.

I do not expect to be wrapped in cotton wool if my endowments fall short (alth ough I do not believe they will). I expect to have thought it through properly and if I have got it wrong it is my fault alone.

If people want to bleat about shortfalls in endowments or phase two transfers, they should at least do it when they know there is one and not a moment before.

Tom Kean is compliance officer of The Analysts

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