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Too much to ask?

My industry Christmas wish list is offered with tongue very much in cheek

Iknow it is a little premature to start discussing the festive season but given that I like to plan ahead, I thought I would get my industry Christmas wish list in early. So, with my tongue planted firmly in cheek, here goes.1: Wouldn’t it be nice if those lovely people at the FSA managed to create a guide to the cost of our services which was short? The current format is too complicated and time-consuming, not to mention full of jargon. It is too early in the client relationship to start explaining what all these investment types are and that an Oeic is not a Burberry-clad chav.

What is wrong with: “Here’s our hourly rate, here’s our estimate for the cost of the work you need and would you like me to do it for you?”when you know what they actually need. Surely, for the client, it is much easier to compare clear estimates than the five-page epic our overworked compliance officers have to produce now? I agree completely that each client should be aware in advance of how we may be paid (especially where fees may be due) but how many genuinely compare services anyway, particularly if they are a referral?2: The chartered financial planner status – my wish has already been granted – a great move forward towards treating our industry as a 21st Century profession rather than some Eighties targeted sales environment. Achieving this should be actively encouraged. I will be personally motivated by those dip PFS letters which I just cannot wait to get rid of.3: Why is there the perpetual emphasis within the industry on the need for high-net-worth clients? While wealthy clients are naturally handy to have in your client bank (and normally jolly decent to deal with), surely we can all earn a solid living from providing good old-fashioned financial planning on an ongoing basis to Mr and Mrs 2.2 children. Sometimes I wish the industry would adopt the back to basics approach.4: A bit of stability within the DWP would be useful. Unfortunately, Mr Blunkett has been cut off in his prime and so we have a new incumbent who hopefully will take over seamlessly. I would quite like to see a cross-party agreement to the restructuring of the DWP so that it is not all “reformed” again if there is a future change of government.5: I wish for helplines that actually help and not shove you from pillar to post because they do not know what department to put you through to. If companies have to put you on hold, can’t they choose some half-decent music to listen to? Norwich Union has the same 35 bars of music on a loop before the phone cuts in (lulling you into thinking your call is about to be answered) to tell you that you are still in the queue. Surely in today’s world of itunes and MP3 downloads, life companies could find something a bit more interesting without infringing copyright? Much as I love Standard Life, its dreadful “pling….. pling pling” drives me bananas.6: Better financial education in schools and universities. I think there is a sea change in the former but definitely not in the latter. My 18-year-old next-door neighbour has just started at Manchester University. He went off armed with F4W’s 10 top tips for budgeting, which I naturally thought would be complemented during Freshers week by some college financial planning guidance. Not a bit of it. So while James is batch cooking and buying his veg cheap at the local market, his mate has drunk away his first-year student loan limit within the first six weeks. Funny? Yes. Sensible? No. While he has obviously had a great time exploring the local water holes, what hope has he got for his mortgage, debt control and financial responsibility later in life?

And finally…6: I would love some correct renewals from Cofunds without having to ask for them and a call back from its customer services when promised.7: The introduction of a no claims bonus on life insurance policies.8: Some final A-Day legislation in time for A-Day.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?

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