Your Shout: Letters to the editor

Financial Adviser

NHS pensions tapering: diagnosis could be fatal

I have been reading the article re Pensions Tapering Relief and DB pension schemes (June 26).

I had a number of GP clients but they have all now retired due to this issue, and when I speak to other IFAs the same problem frequently comes up.

This policy is having a hugely destructive effect on the NHS as they are losing staff because of it more quickly than they can replace them, and the tax raised must surely be much less than the cost of losing these staff.

Despite this, the government is just not listening. I did email the government some time ago but gave up because their responses showed such little interest. I also raised it as a question on the TV programme Question Time last year.

Having spoken with AJ Bell I believe they have also lobbied on this issue but again no one in government is listening.

I think the issue is actually too complicated for people in government to understand and no one takes responsibility as tax and the NHS are dealt with by completely different departments.

I am sure people will eventually die as a result of this policy as it is now becoming so difficult to get a GP appointment.

Mike Jordan
Jordan Financial Management


Algorithmically ignorant

Regarding the news that the Financial Conduct Authority is concerned mortgage lenders could over-lend or under-lend due to a lack of substantial credit data (27 June): the root cause of the problem is that despite the wide use of the word ‘underwriter’ the reality is that nearly all lending decisions – be they for overdrafts, credit cards, mortgages or any other financial product – are made by computers.

That is to say, at some stage the decision parameters have been given to a programmer to design an algorithm that will make decisions based upon those parameters. 

This is commonly known as artificial intelligence. 

However, I much prefer to describe AI as ‘algorithmically ignorant’, because in my opinion they cannot actually learn, and even if they could it would still be within the parameters given. 

They are invariably present in two stages of the borrowing process: first of all the credit rating agencies, which have a very coarse grasp of one’s actual ability to pay, let alone the existing rates of interest being paid on a potential borrower’s current ‘loans’, and second by the lender themselves, who in turn apply their own algorithms on top. 

It is a classic case of tick box decisions and the computer says ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

These algorithms are unbelievably coarse and lead to far worse decisions than were taken in the past by building society and bank managers who knew their customers.

Furthermore, it is almost impossible to challenge the decisions either with the credit rating agency or with a potential lender.