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Is the burden of phone recording worth it?

Natalie Holt, journalist with Money Marketing Photo by Michael Walter/Troika

“This call is being monitored and recorded for training purposes.” We hear this line so often when we call big financial services firms that we barely process it – just another recorded statement you listen to until you get to speak to a real person.

When the new rules come in in 2018 requiring advisers to record phone calls, will clients bat an eyelid? Probably not. But then again, it is all in the framing. “This call is being monitored and recorded to safeguard against future complaints and because the FCA says so” may be strictly accurate, but does not exactly engender a nurturing, trusting relationship between adviser and client.

It is important to stress that under the rules as proposed, not all phone calls will have to be recorded, just the ones relating to a transaction or client request. The difficulty, of course, comes with the evolving nature of client conversations. The call that starts with a general catch-up about the health and wealth of relatives and pets will more often than not morph into a question about the health of a client’s portfolio. It is a shame that relationship could be soured by having to break off the conversation in order to record it.

Despite the added compliance burden, the idea of recording calls is this will protect advisers as much as it will clients. It may begin to sound the death knell for vexatious complaints, with clients being fully aware that their version of events further down the line will be measured against hard evidence.

Recording calls will also have to interact with the black and white rationale of suitability reports. By the time this is introduced, who knows? We may even have a workable format for suitability reports which are made all the more concise when they are backed up by call recordings. (I live in hope).

Part of the reason advisers are frustrated by this requirement may be less to do with the cost of recording and storing client conversations, but more due to the FCA’s track record on handling copious amounts of data. You need only look at the volume of data collected through regulatory returns – I shudder to think of the vast phone records that will be requested by the FCA for little material gain.

It comes back to the adviser/client relationship. Alternatives such as note taking and minutes of client meetings may offer a less intrusive way forward for consumer and adviser protection than blanket recording.

Natalie Holt is editor of Money Marketing – follow her on Twitter here

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. In a word..No.

    This will also make it less attractive for us to pro-actively call clients to keep in touch and ask about any changes in circumstances just in case it then leads on to how their investments are doing or whether they want to review anything, which will then lead to a poorer service and increased client costs due to having to put everything in writing – how is this likely to benefit a client – once again regulatory overkill !

    • I disagree. Recording is the way forward. We’ve done it for over a decade and client meetings too. It reduces length of reports and confirms client understanding and joint aims and intent.

  2. Costs:Benefits Analysis anyone? Yes please. Sadly, the FCA has a unilateral opt out from any such irksome inconveniences.

  3. Several simple applications for call recording are less than a nice lunch. Add to that £30 for a hard drive to store them on and you should get change from £50 – all fully automated so no on-going efforts required.

  4. Gosh its all exhausting isn’t it? I do wonder what the point of this all is really.

    Our firm moved over pretty much exclusively, and at their request, to email as our way of recording our interactions with clients on a daily basis many years ago. Protection for them, and us, even before FOS came along.

    Emails allow clients time to read and review any paperwork at their leisure, query without embarrassment, are reviewable and provide a recorded explanation about any point, not to mention the huge savings on paper given the attachments that accompany any Suitability Report or regular review these days!

    They also set any piece of advice in context of the situation at the time – relevant facts and drivers are recorded discussed, clarified – while also providing a step by step progression in the lead up to and following on from any piece of advice. It would be hard for either party to argue that a telephone call contradicted this trail of evidence, or that they ‘didn’t understand’ something discussed in detail at a later point.

    And yet when the FCA decide that recording calls is the way forward we will of course allocate even more of our management/adviser time and money to this, but it will be at the expense of investment in the growth in our business that inevitably would come could we invest in it instead.

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