You may recall that in a recent news article I argued that Standard Life should not be mailing clients, I have since had a direct response from the company using the get of jail card of ‘we need to do this under our treating customers fairly obligations’.
Now it appears Standard wants me to prove we are still advising a GPP we have looked after for over 10 years and if we can not, level commission is switched off. My prediction that trail commissions would only be temporary was bang on the money. Heaven help those who paid in multiples higher than one times.
Next year will see a far quicker reduction in adviser numbers than predicted so far, as models creak and break and the recent FSA paper on incentives make self-employed advisers an impossible option in any model.
So when you next get a revised Terms of Business read the bloody thing and refuse the changes that don’t suit. After all, contracts are meant to be two sided. Providers say they want more commercial relationships but let’s make sure they are mutually commercial.
With another 139 staff leaving, can I ask Standard Life to focus on matters that directly affect it and not those impacting on others.
It is clear to me that Standard and other providers will build direct sales teams as they seek to expand market share. It is unacceptable that they do this under the cover of treating customers fairly. After all we had the expense of marketing and securing these clients in the first place.
And as we are also customers under treating customers fairly just how fairly are we being treated?
Standard and others were not built on direct offer business they were built on the efforts of advisers like you and me.
I recall when demutualisation was the discussion point Standard spouted unsubstantiated commentary that “mutual was better” yet no evidence was ever received or divulged. When the Scotsman newspaper contacted me on the topic I suggested that a series of case studies could prove the benefits that apparently flowed from mutual investment companies.
Unfortunately the headline was along the lines of “leading adviser accuses Standard Life of a lack of candour” leading to the paper being banned by the late Scott Bell (the CEO of Standard Life at that time) from Standard reception areas.
This was a slight over reaction on their part as had he read the article he would have realised I was trying to be helpful.
This poor judgement of PR reappeared with the cash account that wasn’t cash after all. Here I suggested the company determine if the higher risk had delivered a better return. If so, the risk had been corrected going forward and they had made a profit too. This was rejected in favour of one division blaming another on a conference call which had the objective of putting our minds at rest.
Now we have the move to initiate communication with IFA clients about an opaque product that is just one element of a portfolio and this is at the core of my objection. They are advising without having all of the facts, a classic case of advice out of context. This is the result of a regulator (FSA) which never understood advice, far less the planning process.
Products are tools they are not the entirety of the solution.
Having listened to Martin Wheatley at the Apfa dinner recently, I think he has a better grasp and his reference to rear mirror regulation reflected that he is getting up to speed far faster than his predecessors ever did.
Robert Reid is managing director of Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners