I agree with Nick Bamford and others about poor provider service. It is our biggest problem. It is costing all us IFAs a fortune.
I now delegate contacting providers to my staff. Our telephone bill has increased by 10 per cent compared with a year ago. We have analysed this and it is the calls to providers' 0845 numbers which have caused the increase. Our staff's time is wasted as well.
Nick is spot on when he says that the senior management of these companies have made serious errors of judgement. Their computer systems can barely cope and their staff must be under stress from pressure from the likes of us and policyholders.
Our clients often just do not believe that providers can be so slow in answering simple queries.
Like Nick, we do a lot of pension business and our experience is that they have sacked most of their knowledgeable senior staff, both in head offices and in the field.
I recently spoke to a “pension marketing manager” of a former mutual office who could not answer a question about group occupational schemes – and he was running a pension course to increase our knowledge.
They now have young staff who, if you ask them anything the slightest out of the ordinary, cannot answer the question. They waste more time by going backward and forward to “supervisors” trying to find the answer. If you want to talk to an expert who has knowledge rather than speaking to a call centre person, you have to be very aggressive to be put through.
If we had efficient companies, we could afford to pay our PI premiums.
Frank Iredale Partner, Iredale Financial Advisers,Aylesbury, Bucks