As I write this column it is April 1, but this is no joke.
We are now more than a year on from the first lockdown but some providers still have not changed their ways of doing business much, if at all.
Frankly some are more suited to the 1990s than the 2020s – I actually got asked to fax something recently. I have not even seen a fax machine in more than 10 years, let alone used one.
This is not just the legacy providers either, this is current providers who still want to us to place business and our clients' money with them. We have to tell them "enough" and vote with our feet and our clients' funds.
There are plenty of providers who are ready to deal with us and our clients digitally: online quotes, online application, and the client can pay the funds online too. No signatures required, or digital signatures accepted, no paperwork printed and posted, no cheques collected and posted. Client valuations and statements for annual reviews easily done online, fund switches or re-balancing done in a few clicks, and changing regular contributions or withdrawals in seconds.
This has been the busiest end of tax year I can remember for many years, but it has largely been easy because I can process applications and top-ups for Isas and pensions in minutes online and then send the clients the payment details through secure messaging on my client portal.
Come the new tax year I will be going through all my clients who need to Bed and Isa – again, easy online, just a few key strokes and its all done for me.
So why still deal with providers who make doing business difficult? Why let them make your life a pain?
If you have a bad meal at a restaurant you do not go back and eat there again, so why keep giving business to providers that clearly do not value your custom?
It is not like there is not plenty of choice; many providers were able to this this before, but many more updated their processes rapidly last year.
So next time you are printing an application form, asking a client to sign a document, putting a stamp on an envelope to post something to a provider just stop and think: why am I letting them make my life difficult?
They need us, we do not need them. We deserve better and better is out there – you do not have to look hard to find it anymore. Move on and leave those who do not care about service behind.
Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning