Winners of the Raspberry Awards
Regardless of how well we are doing here at Yellowtail Towers, sometimes it feels as though things conspire to make progress more difficult than it needs to be.
I tweeted about a couple of incidents recently and the comments I received confirmed that these are not one-off or isolated problems.
Take Royal Mail (I really wish someone would, and then shake it up). I can remember when households, as well as businesses in London, would receive their first delivery of post before 9am in the morning. A few hours later there would be a second delivery. And throughout the day there would be several collections of mail from local postboxes (many now sadly removed).
But several years ago, in order to provide a better service, Royal Mail stopped the second delivery of mail. Now it proudly announces on its website that its aim is to deliver post to an address in Central London by 3pm, a deadline it has managed to miss on several occasions. 3pm? That is six hours later than I used to receive my mail. How is that a better service?
To rub salt into the wound, the price of first and second-class stamps is going up by 14p a letter. That is a whopping 30 per cent hike in the first-class rate, and an eye-watering 40 per cent rise in the price of second-class mail.
As much as I would like to, I cannot avoid using the Royal Mail. But when I am getting a third-class service while paying for a first or second-class one, I begrudge these increases, which is why I stocked up on postage stamps at the old price.
As a small business we have been pretty nimble at finding efficient and low-cost ways of delivering information and documents to our clients. Email has helped tremendously, as has the use of secure, password-controlled online storage repositories. The one we use in Morningstar’s Adviser Workstation gives us a speedier, low cost and more secure means of delivery. But still we are hampered by outdated and, arguably, the protectionist practices of some larger product providers.
This week, for example, I wanted a surrender form for a client who, after 10 years of investing with the Prudential, finally wanted his money back. He is buying another property and the money would pay for some of the redevelopment. On the Pru’s website I found several forms, including forms for making additional investments, but I could not find a form that would allow an investor to withdraw their money. Funny that.
So I called it and asked it to email me a form, a blank form, a form with no client specific information on it. But it would not. Instead it would post it. Ridiculous. Using Royal Mail instead of email slows things down and keeps costs high.
And on the subject of unnecessary postal costs, not to mention paper, a Raspberry Award must go to Scottish Widows, which managed to send 12 items of post for two stakeholder pension contracts. No wonder it does not make any money on these contracts.
Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning