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Secret IFA: Whose money is it anyway?

Secret IFA: Whose money is it anyway?

Clients’ money quickly becomes the cash cow that generates the company’s recurring revenue stream. It’s little wonder then that some companies appear to place obstacles in the way of anything that might threaten that status quo. There are many advice firms that give off the same vibe too.

Earlier this year we had a set-to with one such firm when a client wanted to transfer to us. We had received the client’s letter of authority for the company to release information to us, and we forwarded it to them along with the contract list and information we needed. A few weeks later we received the information we requested, but without details for one of the contracts.

The missing contract was held in our client’s maiden name and, as a result, they wouldn’t release the information without a separate letter of authority. Annoying.

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The client was incredulous that they wouldn’t provide us with information. The company obviously knew she was the same person because she had been receiving consolidated reports for all her contracts. Its systems knew she was the same person, but instead of being helpful they were being petty and obstructive (her words, not mine).

We also had issues with a company that has a Himalayan mountain as its logo. They say it represents strength, stability and longevity; we think it’s big, difficult and remote. Perceptions.

We were told the problem stemmed from not using the right letter of authority when seeking access to our client’s information. To save some time we’d sent a standard letter of authority (one we’ve used thousands of times before, and one we’d used with her husband’s account at the same company) to the client and asked her to send it direct to the company. A few days later we tried to obtain the information by phone. They wouldn’t give it to us.

Because she’d sent the authority letter directly we were told the client needed to call the company to verify she’d sent the letter. So she called them. Again we called the company. This time they said they’d made a mistake and the client shouldn’t have been told to call them. Instead she should have sent some proof of ID. We were back at square one. We complained, it hasn’t been resolved.

Such unnecessary obstacles don’t make sense. They display a lack of common sense and no appreciation of whose money it really is.

Having to battle with these intractable organisations doesn’t help clients one jot, and merely adds costs, both monetary and emotional.