Is it me or have the standards of service provided by companies which have been the subject of recent takeovers and mergers plummeted? Either
I and my clients are being singled out or, in the name of streamlining and improved profitability, the recent mergers have led to a depletion of administrative staff to such a degree that there is no-one left to do the work.
Recent experience of Scottish Amicable's pension department following the takeover by Prudential and Provident Mutual's one following the takeover by General Accident is making me think that there is no-one left in the buildings.
Are other advisers having the same problems? Curiously, I have not experienced this trouble with Clerical Medical since its takeover by the Halifax. In fact, I might even say that there has been an improvement.
I am not talking about the ability of a company to send me an illustration for new business almost before I have thought of asking them for it or to issue a policy 10 minutes after receiving the application form. Most seem capable of this.
As a servicing broker to a sizeable account, much of which goes back 20 years or more, it is head-office service on existing business that is far more important to me. It seems to be lacking, due to the fact that it is being given a very low priority in many companies.
If one of my clients is dissatisfied with my efforts on their behalf, they can easily complain to the PIA, which may lead to me having to pay an administrative fee for the complaint to be reviewed. Surely there should be such a process in existence for advisers to be able to raise similar complaints on companies?
Like many of the "elder statesmen" of the industry, I can still remember the days when a company was disappointed if it was discovered that an error had been found. Now, it seems to be the case that it congratulates itself whenever it gets something right for a change.
Perhaps Money Marketing may like to run a survey each year asking questions about the lack of service on existing business rather than one designed to award Brownie points for handling new policies. I, for one, would be a lot more interested in this.
Barbican Independent, Financial Advisors, Peakirk, Peterborough, Cambs