Simon Chamberlain’s look back at his career in the “Beautiful Career” column in Professional Brief highlighted what was and still is to an extent wrong with the financial services sector.
The organisations that he has worked for would hardly have received any prizes for treating customers fairly. Merchant Investors, Royal Life, J Rothschild Assurance (now St James’s Place) and Allied Dunbar were all companies where the salesforce was run on the principle that greed is good.
Top salespeople were rewarded with overseas sales conventions and massive volume overrides based on levels of production.
However, all this had to be paid for and it was by high-charging poor-performing unit-linked contracts.
Remember the dreaded “initial units” which ensured there was no transfer or paid-up value on contributions paid in the first five years of a contract.
The salespeople working for these organisations quite happily sold these contracts to members of the public and were well rewarded for doing so. How many people who still hold these poor-performing policies would thank the salesperson that sold it to them?
Many of these salespeople are still in the business and have moved over to the IFA sector, having taken on an air of respectability.
They have distanced themselves from their past activities on the grounds that they did not know any better or that this was the norm for the period concerned.
However, this does not excuse them and they should acknowledge this instead of basking in the glory of past achievements based on how much money they earned.