Legal & General has come under fire by a financial adviser for the way it handled a request from a visually impaired client, after the company took nearly four weeks to put suitable arrangements in place.
The client, called Mrs W to protect her anonymity by advice firm Rowley Turton, recently started suffering from failing eyesight.
The client was concerned by the letters she was getting from investment and insurance companies because she could not read the information and therefore didn’t know if she was missing anything.
She spoke to her adviser at Rowley Turton who agreed to contact all the companies on her behalf in order to put arrangements in place, such as organising firms to send out large print correspondence, Braille, and audio tapes.
According to Scott Gallacher, chartered financial planner at Leicester-based Rowley Turton, all the firms except L&G had accepted the instruction.
Mr Gallacher said L&G took five days to respond with what he described as a “completely impractical” solution that involved the advisory firm having to contact L&G each time the insurer was to send out automatically-generated paperwork.
The adviser pointed out that he wouldn’t necessarily know when Legal & General was about to send these letters.
He accused L&G of being in breach of the Equality Act because the insurer was not making reasonable adjustments for someone with a disability.
Seven days after Mr Gallacher had criticised the firm for contravening legislation, L&G said the issue had been passed to a manager and he should allow up to 10 working days for a response.
It wasn't for another two weeks before L&G finally agreed to send the client everything in large print, he said.
Speaking to FTAdviser, Martin Stanley, senior paraplanner at Rowley Turton, said: “Older people, especially those with a special need such as a visual impairment, can often feel reluctant to ‘bother’ people and ask for what they need.”
He said this causes many to soldier on in silence, adding: “It’s therefore very important that we as finance professionals remember to consider these sorts of needs.
“It’s just as important that providers do not put daft hurdles in the way of arranging them,” Mr Stanley said.
“A company’s insistence that a written request was needed to switch to large-print letters serves no purpose at all, and feels obstructive.”
The paraplanner also pointed out that this might be a particular issue for people who have no financial advisers or other helpers to speak for them.
While the providers generally handled the situation well, Mr Stanley said it was “disappointing” to find some exceptions.
This comes after one financial adviser criticised insurance and investment providers for failing to have adequate systems in place for dealing with vulnerable clients.
A spokeswoman for L&G apologised for the delay and issues experienced when the adviser tried to obtain correspondence for his client.