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Lack of contacts could ruin ambition

I read recently that Clerical Medical are boldly predicting that in just a few years time they will be the UK’s number three life office.

As a first push towards this grand objective, they seem to have taken on lots of new broker consultants and started sending out assorted emails with useful technical updates and commentaries.

Their new broker consultant for our area has been in touch with us to wave the newly dry-cleaned CM flag and try to fire up a potentially productive new relationship (mainly for him, I suspect, as I am unaware of our having lost out by not having used CM for anything at all for the past eight or nine years).

Anyway, cynical old trooper that I am, with bitter memories of past administrative atrocities, I said (this was all by email, by the way) that before we could even consider using CM ever again, we would want a name and a direct phone line to the person in their admin department who would be personally responsible for sorting out any admin problems or calamities that might arise in respect of any business that might be submitted to CM from this particular IFA practice. Oh, just contact me, he replied breezily, and I’ll sort out any problems.

Unfortunately for him, I have been on this side of the fence for a sufficiently large number of years to have heard such assurances umpteen times before and to have found them virtually always to be as hollow as they are glib.

I also know from my last unhappy dealings with CM that it is not possible to speak directly to anyone in their admin department as they simply do not take phone calls (or they certainly did not use to the last time I tried to speak to the writer of a letter we had received, which was only a couple of years ago).

The best you can do is speak to someone in a CM call centre who will take a message and pass it on.

So I said that, without a contact name, a direct-dial phone number and possibly a personal introduction to the person who would be our specified office-based admin troubleshooter, there was no way in which this dialogue could progress. And that was the last I ever heard from him.

Times have moved on. Traditional life companies are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat and CM have lost so much ground with IFAs that it is hard to see how they can ever regain it. They are also owned by a big bank, which is hardly likely to endear them to IFAs. Number three UK life office in a few years time? Somehow, I really do not think so.

Julian Stevens
Harvest IFM



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