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Taxing time over Friends Provident

Friends Provident is at it again!

In June 1999, I arranged a with-profits investment bond with Friends Provident and in October our client received an invitation to an inheritance tax seminar from the society&#39s direct sales office in Fareham.

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I wrote and protested to Friends Provident and pointed out that in this case it had also taken at least two phone calls and several weeks before we received our commission.

The reply I received from Rocco Sepe, director of IFA operations, advised me that First Call (Friends Provident&#39s direct sales arm) purchases lists of potential clients and our client&#39s name appeared on a list obtained from the Investor Register.

I was reasonably satisfied with the reply until I read Money Marketing&#39s October 25 edition. I then wrote to Mr Sepe saying that I had a small share portfolio and that in addition to owning a house worth over the inheritance tax threshold my wife owned some investment property and that we had not received an invitation to the seminar. I also said I was now inclined to echo Victor Meldrew&#39s favourite phrase.

Mr Sepe, who seemed somewhat upset by my letter, replied almost by return saying that the source of the mailing list was as he had previously stated and that with reference to the article in Money Marketing, that was a misunderstanding on the part of the IFA concerned.

In March 2000, our client got yet another invitation to an inheritance tax seminar and I wrote to Mr Sepe yet again and said that I was now inclined to repeat Victor Meldrew&#39s phrase. I also pointed out that I was hoping to place almost £1m of investment bond business in the near future and asked him to guess which company would not be getting any of that business.

Mr Sepe replied and stated that his society had written to the List Register asking for our client&#39s details to be removed and that it had received confirmation that this would done.

Our client who, although she could be regarded as elderly, is still very much compos mentis and is, fortunately, somewhat amused by the invitations.

She certainly does not have an inheritance tax problem as she lives in a modest bungalow and her total estate is well under the threshold and in any event a considerable proportion of her estate is left to charities.

She has now received her third invitation to a Friends Provident inheritance tax seminar. What do I do now?

Laurie Dean

Financial services manager,

Stuart Bromley and Company,

Bognor Regis

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