In future, I shall delete all emails announcing surveys alleging advisers are not trusted by the public. They are deceptive and demoralising drivel. Who answers surveys anyway?
When approached by survey-takers in the street I employ the kind of high-speed body-swerve of which most professional footballers would be proud. Those conducting telephone surveys are told they need to pay our hourly rates. If they do not pay, we do not play. Anyone answering surveys for free either has too much time on their hands or is plain daft, or both.
In a recent column for Money Marketing, Nic Cicutti quotes the FCA’s Financial Lives Report findings that 13 per cent of those who received advice in the last 12 months claim to feel they were missold a pension or investment product.
I have inserted the words “claim to” because what people actually feel and what they claim to feel these days are very often as different to each other as a white knight to a black bishop.
Some years ago, a consultant of ours came in one morning utterly distraught. The previous evening he had opened a mortgage misselling allegation from a claims management company dating from his sole trader days. The complaint was of the pre-ticked boxes variety. I reviewed it and could find nothing wrong with the work he had done.
He had remortgaged Mr H, a reckless spendthrift, turning his negative cashflow positive, thus averting repossession. Gathering the staff around with my phone on speaker I phoned Mr H to ask why he was unhappy.
“I’m not at all,” he said. “But I was looking at losing my house so if I can get some free money I’m going to do it. The claims firm says his insurance will pay anyway.”
At this point, I explained he was on speakerphone with four people listening and that the statement he had signed off amounted, provably, to a pack of lies. I then explained the law on fraud by false representation and confirmed it all to him in writing. No more was heard of his claim.
Another prospective client, Mrs C, wanted advice on whether she was due compensation from Halifax. Being unsure of its sales process around attitude to risk, Halifax had contacted her to ascertain whether any misselling had occurred, though her investments had outperformed handsomely.
We explained Halifax was offering her the option to cash in and take her profits without penalty, or alternatively to remain invested knowing the funds might fall in value in future. There was nothing to compensate. She was most unhappy to hear this, thinking she should be able to take her profits plus a cash bonus “compensation” payment.
Surveys reporting alleged mistrust are, in reality, reflecting how the population has been coached by CMCs and so-called consumer advocates to game regulation dishonestly. While most people are innately good, reasonable and honest, a proportion are mean and greedy, unreasonable and dishonest. Or just plain nutty. Or all of the above.
I have not done a survey, so I do not know what proportion of the population that is – but if it is 13 per cent, I would not be at all surprised. Mr H and Mrs C are undoubtedly part of it.
Neil Liversidge is managing director of West Riding Personal Financial Solutions