The FSCS is sending the wrong message
Regarding your article ‘Advisers warn FSCS levy adds to ‘extreme pressure’’ (May 22).
I feel the comments by Ian Lowes sum up the situation very well and he has completely captured the mood of exasperation with the system that most advisers feel.
Two points I would add: If the Financial Services Compensation Scheme continues to be used to cover the general public against failure of products that it is not duty bound or designed to protect against, it simply reinforces a culture of recklessness when individuals make financial decisions to invest in such unregulated instruments.
It sends the message that there is a no-lose scenario for them, and if the investment pays off then great. If it doesn’t and it all ends in tears, then the FSCS will pick up the tab for me.
This in itself positively reinforces the wrong behaviour and messages for the next time such off-the-wall or risky financial products are being considered.
My second point is the Financial Conduct Authority cannot continue to focus on lowering the cost of regulated financial advice for the public, but then allow the system to keep bleeding responsible advice firms dry with the sins of others.
What concerns me is the complete lack of joined up thinking by those who are supposed to be the guardians of the advice industry, and who should ensure that good quality advice is available for the good of the public at large.
Running a people business
Regarding your article ‘Cost cuts blamed for ‘faceless’ providers’ (May 21).
I read this article after recently retiring following 30-plus years as a corporate independent financial adviser. This covered the days of branch networks of providers, no iPhones and yes, inspectors whose job it was to keep us happy. Poor service meant no business as a hard fact.
Unfortunately the comments are so true. While technology has helped without doubt in doing the job, relationships have disappeared in what is still a people business and will always be so.
Sadly, as providers have reduced through mergers, legacy products purchased by clients all those years ago remain.
What a challenge it was to get a provider call centre to grasp a query on a freestanding additional voluntary contribution, executive pension plan, group AVC or old occupational pension (not group personal pension).
I would say after great efforts on occasions, I found providers still had people hidden away who, once tracked down, were very helpful and glad to help.
Sadly their contact details were frequently not given in communication, as they were not in the frontline to handle IFA queries.
We were left to the scripted interface of call centres, where training and understanding of these issues was often missing from the menu of options on their computer screens.