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Public don’t understand adviser’s job

I visited a prospective client the other evening. He wanted advice on life insurance for family protection (two small children, not married to his partner, no idea about budget or suitable levels of cover) and for mortgage protection (interest-only, no repayment vehicle in place).

He also wanted some suggestions on what best to do with his assorted bits and pieces of pension funds from past employments – quite a lot of ground to cover.

We went through all the usual documentation including the fact-find and, along the way, I told him, free of charge, what to do about consolidating his various personal pension funds. By the end of the meeting, it was clear that I was going to have to spend quite some time putting together a table of optional cover levels and costings.

I asked him for a nominal fee of £50 as a contribution towards what it was going to cost me to put it all together for him. He refused, on the grounds that he could get life insurance quotes free of charge just by making a few phone calls.

I was tempted to say: “Well, if you know what you want, how much you are prepared to spend and how to set it all up properly, why are you seeking the services of an independent financial adviser?” The answer, of course, would simply have been: “Because I expect you to do it all for me free of charge” and that would have been the end of that.

But times are tough and business is sparse so I agreed to waive the fee on the grounds that he is a referral from a colleague but I am still smarting about it.

Clearly, the public have very little understanding of what IFAs do and still cling to the blind assumption that commission covers all costs, with no obligation on the part of the prospective customer to do anything at all with what may have taken an IFA a good few hours to put together.

If these people do not do business, then the next time a similar situation arises, I shall stick to my guns and walk away.

Julian Stevens

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