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With Friends like this…

A client of ours recently increased his regular monthly contributions to his Friends Provident personal pension.

Quick as a flash, our local Friends Provident office churned out an illustration based solely on the additional contributions, the main function of which is to let the client know just how much commission the additional contributions will generate.

As a planning tool, it is of virtually no value. What we really need is an illustration showing where the client is now heading based on his new total contributions in addition to what he has contributed to date. Well, it is obvious, isn&#39t it?

I phoned our local Friends Provident sales office (they aren&#39t really a branch any more – all that is history) and made my request.

Oh no, I was told, we don&#39t do that here. You&#39ll have to phone Manchester. Manchester? Why Manchester? They&#39re the people who do quotes of this type. So Manchester it was.

The trouble was that Manchester said, Oh no, we don&#39t do that here. You&#39ll have to speak to your local office. So it was back to the local sales office.

Of course, somebody different answered the phone this time. They said: Oh no, we don&#39t do that here. You&#39ll have to phone Manchester.

By this time, I was getting a bit peeved. Eventually, my latest contact said they would go away and investigate, then come back to me. Apparently, nothing in Friends Provident&#39s entire quotations system is capable of providing an illustration of the type for which I was asking. Amazing but true.

Okay, I said, you&#39ll have to fudge it. Just do a pair of quotes based on the total new level of contributions (with 5 per cent and 10 per cent annual increases) and apply the current policy value as a single premium.

Two days later, another pair of quotes – evidently produced by some carefully anonymous other person – turned up based on the wrong regular premium and no single-premium quote. I phoned to find out why.

Apparently, the person who had done these new quotes could not figure out how to do one with an escalating single premium. My fists clenched gently.

And this is an office which claims to be one of the leaders in the UK market. Is it any wonder that IFAs are so frustrated with the state of the industry?

Julian Stevens,


WDS Independent Financial Advisers,




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