Over the past 30 years we have seen booms and busts galore, caused by market exuberance or company hubris.
We have also seen 30 years’ worth of Financial Adviser Service Awards results.
Some companies have, like New Star, shined brightly before fading from the investment universe. We have seen giants like Allied Dunbar singing: “There may be trouble ahead” and, indeed there was – for Allied Dunbar. Henry no longer wonders if it’s an Equitable Life. Cheltenham & Gloucester no longer tops the best-buy mortgage tables.
But even those companies that remain after all these years have seen ups and downs in service provision. This year, many large names did not get the coveted five stars. Some barely even scraped three stars this year. What has become of their service proposition to IFAs?
Was it just Covid-19 that caused these companies to fall down the rankings? If so, why have so many others maintained or improved their scores? Why have so many smaller and medium-sized companies done so well?
As one adviser put it earlier this year when the voting forms went out: “When times are tough, you can clearly see who is using it as an excuse for lamentable service.”
Advisers rightly demand top-notch service from their platforms, investment managers, protection and pension providers. To run your businesses well, you deserve to have systems that work; business development managers that not only answer their phones but also can solve your query; and proactive, clear communication.
But it is more than just keeping advisers satisfied. Great service levels from providers mean that the end client is not put at a disadvantage.
When providers get it right, everyone in the chain is happy.
Get it wrong, and advisers won’t just vote with the star ratings, but also with their business.
Big companies take note: if you’re not fixing your service propositions now, the smaller guys will erode your margin until you end up just another footnote in financial services history.