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Diary of adviser

Barry Johnson

I feel slightly the worse for wear after unwise indulgences, given my age. My first job is to look at emails and check for messages left over the weekend. One or two queries and I will need to get the answers from the providers, as they are not available online.

Here we go then: “Your call is important to us. We are experiencing a larger than anticipated number of phone calls.” So my “important” call is put on hold. While I am waiting I swallow the paracetamol.

Eventually, after 15 minutes, I get a real person. I say: “What did you say your turnaround time was? What do you mean 18 working days?”

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Having dealt with that issue and checked all the emails, I am left with a few important client requests, which take priority. We do not have pending trays, which in reality means items coming in that day are dealt with that day, if at all possible. Another reason for not having pending trays is that our office is completely paperless after we managed to convert 40 filing cabinets into electronic data. It took us three years, but it was worth it.


I have a meeting first thing with a client who wants to discuss a mortgage, but the mortgage market review is likely to make it almost impossible. This leads me to take a look at the FCA’s requirements for applying for authorisation now that it has taken over the regulation of consumer credit activities from the Office of Fair Trading. This firm has to apply between 1 November and 31 January, so we have taken a quick look at the likely hurdles in the application process.

It turns out the applicant is squeaky clean and has never missed a payment on anything. He has a large deposit, which he can prove is valid. He earns masses of money and can prove it, but I bet mortgage underwriters will still have questions. We are about to submit the application electronically and are taking bets on how quick the client gets his offer or, alternatively, how many additional questions underwriters dream up to tick all their boxes.


Most of the day is taken up with continuing professional development. A client came in who is over the moon that he can access all of his pension pot from next April. He has been justifiably complaining about the rubbish deal being offered for a lifetime annuity. Who are we to argue with his thoughts?


Having been in the industry a long time, I know clients need help when they are at their most vulnerable, and new widows certainly fit into this category. John (not his real name) has passed away. “I am sorry to hear that, Margaret. We will tell everyone who needs to be told right now.” The deceased left a will on our advice some time ago, so I agreed to meet Margaret after the funeral to move things on.

Right now, though, I need to deal with the couple’s property insurance. I call the provider: “Can you please remove John from the policy as he has died.” “Can’t do that – we need his widow/next of kin to call,” comes the reply, insisting on the poor old dear phoning, and she is clearly beside herself with grief.