Emma Ann Hughes  

Lessons to learn from Lifesearch's insulting adviser

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

Anyone who claims they have dealt with a troublesome customer and not muttered some insult about them afterwards is either A) lying or B) a saint.

Lifesearch's brush with the Financial Ombudsman Service and bill for an adviser’s flappable lips, questionable sense of humour and inability to work his telephone is a cautionary tale for our times that all advisers should take note of.

Lifesearch's client was ticked off to be called while at work and I am sure expressed his displeasure at this disturbance.

We don't know exactly how he explained he would rather not be called when trying to earn cash but we do know, thanks to a Financial Ombudsman Service decision, that an adviser thought he was fair game to be insulted as a result.

The ombudsman said: "The content of the conversation Mr O overhead was, in my view, shocking, offensive and utterly appalling. [The adviser] swore repeatedly, violently and extremely strongly, about Mr O. He insulted him. He mocked his medical history.

"He even expressed the view that Mr O ought to have committed suicide in the context of what he'd learned about Mr O's medical history. It was inexcusable. This conversation should never have taken place.”

The client didn't deserve to be accidentally re-dialled by the adviser and listen to a group of people "joking" that if they had the same medical afflictions that he did they would kill themselves.

While I hear many moan about political correctness gone mad these days the reality of 2019 is I am not surprised someone who should treat customers fairly acted in this way.

We live in an age where insulting individuals on programmes like The X Factor is primetime television.

Simon Cowell has made millions by remarking to deluded individuals who think they are going to be popstars: "You look like the Incredible Hulk's wife" and "Do you have a singing teacher? Get a lawyer and sue her."

Heck, we live in an age where the President of the US Donald Trump has achieved the highest office in his land while using words such as "fat, pig, dog, slob, disgusting" to describe women.

Mr Trump just brushes accusations of sexism off as he was making a joke.

Given the rise of such individuals you can understand why Lifesearch's adviser, who was dismissed for his actions, thought there would be nothing wrong with taking a client’s problems and trying to amuse his crowd of colleagues.

But it is wrong to do this.

What advisers must remember is we live in an age where people don’t just accept a few hundred pounds compensation and where an individual and his colleagues have been fired for mercilessly mocking and insulting this client.

Instead, they run to solicitors and claims management companies and think anything less than a five-figure sum for the distress they have suffered just isn’t good enough.